Saints and Birthdays

June 24th is my adopted Saint’s Day, St. John – adopted since I wasn’t born catholic and entered the culture late – only it’s the John whose head was cut off, and well, maybe I need to choose another.

I only learned it was my Saint’s Day when I was living in Mexico, and my mentor, Gloria, the curendera, said it was. John is, after all, the linguistic precursor for Janet, and John was my father’s name, and it’s on the day before my birthday. It seemed a reasonable sort of connection. Saint’s Days are very important in Mexico, it seemed more important than the actual birthday, so I said, Okay. John it would be.

But it seems that dashing into this new year of my life with the possibility of getting my head cut off might bear another look. Or another saint.

So in looking up St. John in the Book of Saints, I found there were thirteen pages of Johns who became saints. Along with the ones we might recognize, John of the Cross, John the Apostle, John of God, John Chrysostom, there’s also John Cassian 5th Century, who wrote on free will (condemned by St. Augustine); John Alvernia who had visions and could read people’s minds; John of Capistrano of the 15th Century who was a healer; John of Egypt, a prophet; and John the Silent 5th into 6th Centuries who was a hermit. He lived for 94 years and out of that, 75 was spent as a solitary, proffering spiritual advice.

Now there’s a thought. When Cliff read that one, he asked if I’d like him to board up my office door, and I suggested bricks with a little opening to pass food and advice. I have a bathroom next door. I could be a 21st Century Anchorite with a laptop.

And then I received an email message from another teacher, Lynn Jericho, and she wrote an entirely new view of St. John the Baptist, calling it St. John’s Tide. Ah. St. John’s Tide, it seems, was an evening to light bonfires and celebrate the fullness of life, just as John, before birth, leapt in his mother’s womb with joy when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. Ergo, a celebration of new life rather than the end. (In Ireland, they also welcomed the fairies. That’s very Irish.)

Lynn goes on to write, “Imagine we can sit still and leap for joy at the same time and not feel insane but feel blessed with profound sanity. As beings of nature, our senses want us to be still and perceive all there is to delight us in the summery moment. As beings of spirit, our supersensible consciousness wants us to move, even dance, toward something more, to joyfully prepare (rather than contentedly delight) because we perceive the Divine Possibility.”

In other words, combining the Johns who serve and the ones who leap for joy and the ones who are silent and ones who prophesy and ones who give advice, makes this a pretty full day of celebration.

And so, with things ratcheting up again too fast and the highways clogged with cars and another to-do list suddenly erupting when I though I’d just watch and wait for my birthday, I will celebrate newness of life and the magic of Divine Possibilities.

I wish the same for you. My birthday wish, in fact, is that your summer is blest and delightful and filled with the fairy dust of miracles and new life. And a quick duck of the head when some sword starts swinging your way. When you think about it, if we collectively focus on the new birth happening in the world – as births are never simple – we might look back on this time of participating in a miracle.

Jumping for joy might just be the practice that will take us there.

10 thoughts on “Saints and Birthdays

  1. 😍 Happy to hear twenty miles separated you from the damage…. really heartbreaking to see flattened homes and dreams. But am sure they will rise and start dreaming again. …and hopefully world leaders will wake up and emerge from their ivory towers 😒
    I believe is mother nature screaming out for changes in our lifestyles . We cannot continue to abuse her without repercussions on weather patterns and natural disasters. The thing is that everything is so interconnected that concerted action is needed by every world citizen – not just pockets of environmentally friendly societies. 🙏🏼

    1. Ms. Rose! Thank you. Quite frankly, I’d forgotten it too and enjoyed reading it again as much as you did the first time. My goodness…this was almost ten years ago, nine to be precise, as my birthday is once more creeping close.

      Perhaps, someday, when I’ve run out of everything else that needs doing and writing, I will go back through these many posts and collect them into a book of essays. They might be easier to find that way.

      Thanks again for the comment that sent me back on a search to find, exactly, what it was that amused you.

      Hope things are beginning to calm down in your part of the world. Here, we still have fierce storms and a huge tornado that went roaring across the prairies about twenty miles west of us, flattening small towns and creating havoc, but no one killed, nor did it – the tornado – endeavor to come into the city.

      Much love, Madame John (love it!)

  2. Dear Janet,

    Thank you very much for your latest WordPress letter on the different Saint Johns. Happy Birthday, too.

    We celebrated one of my aunt’s (Millie) 90th. on June 27. It had a Phillies baseball theme and her son, John, put this booklet together and each decade was a nine inning presentation.

    Most people had to wear something pertaining to the Philadelphia Phillies. My Aunt Millie is a big fan.

    A music CD with nine 8 songs plus Abbott and Costello doing there funny Whose on First skit.

    It was a fun part. My Aunt Millie looks great for a ninety year old woman.

    Say hello to Cliff. please. Tell him I was at the Mariners vs Orioles game in May.

    God Bless

  3. Happy Birthday!

    May this whole new year be filled with blessings.

    What a lovely message about saints. I truly love the saints, and my own birthday saint is St. Nicholas, a generous and wise bishop whom we will never let fade; just look at the numerous reincarnations and interpretations throughout the world and these numerous centuries.

    May your new year be filled with “saints among us”.


  4. diana’s family is cuban and they celebrate saint’s days. diana is more of a pagan name than a christian name but they basically ignore that. the children each get 25 dollars on their saint’s day. after we got married, i was eligible. after 3 years i went to the saints book looking for back pay. i was delighted to see that there were several. surely i was due a lot of money.
    i was wanting to wish you a happy birthday but i had to go to my stupid stinking “gift” starting at 4am. i got home at midnight. harumph. but diana’s mom had called to wish me a happy santo. today!
    well yesterday. it’s never too late to birth a santo

  5. Happy birthday! I’ve been enjoying the lightening bugs dance and thinking of faires. Thank you for your blessings, and may they be returned to you ten-fold. By the way, getting older isn’t as golden as the media would have us believe. You, however, have such grace, confidence and inner(and outer) beauty that you inspire us all. Love and happiness to you.

  6. Oh blest be the day on which you born
    Alto all the faeries at first did mourn;
    To see such a One so merry and bright
    Now enter the Land of day and Night.

    Happy Birthday Janet-John-Jean-Sean-Siobhan

  7. A Joyful Birthday, to you, John-et!

    Good point, why choose one John for a patron when you can have them all, each with his particular message, together with them, we express the fullness of life–birth and continual rebirth.

    Leap for joy!


    Your musings are delightful! Thanks for bringing more spirituality and thoughtfulness into my daily life…


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