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.