"Hooray, Hooray, it's the First of May!" That was the happy declaration in my family on this morning, all of us rejoicing in green leaves, bright blossoms and warm, sunny days. Indeed, May 1st is no less intoxicating now than it was in childhood, especially when one gloriously beautiful day spills into the next. May is a month that makes you feel glad to be alive!
I imagine this must be how Pagans feel, too, during the ancient fire festival of Beltane
. Observed on May 1st, this heady celebration falls midway between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. Dancing around the May Pole, courting couples, fire rites and fertility rituals mark the coming of summer and hopes for a fruitful year.
May 2nd marks the end of the twelve-day festival of Ridván
. The most holy Bahá'í holiday, it celebrates Bahá'u'lláh's declaration of prophethood as heralded by the Báb. The Declaration of the Báb
on May 23rd marks the inception of the Bahá'í faith in 1844 while the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh
commemorates his death on May 29th, 1892.
and Easter Sunday
this month mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in the Orthodox Christian
faiths. Ascension Day
occurs on the 40th day after Easter and commemorates the ascension of Christ into heaven as recorded in the Gospel of Mark. One of the earliest Christian festivals, it marks the end of the Easter season.
From the Greek word pentekoste,
is observed on the Sunday 50 days after Easter. A happy festival, it celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the 12 apostles and the birth of the Christian church. The holy day is emphasized particularly by Pentecostal churches which believe in the direct experience of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost has its origins in Shavu'ot
, the two-day Jewish harvest festival celebrated 50 days after Passover. Marking the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest, at one time Jewish men were expected to bring their first omer,
or sheaf, of barley to the Temple in Jerusalem. Sometimes known as the Festival of the Giving of the Law
, Shavu'ot also celebrates Moses' descent from Mt. Sinai with the Torah.
falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Christians meditate on the doctrine of the Trinity; that there is One God who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Though the term "Trinity" is not found in the Bible, most Bible scholars agree that the Trinity doctrine is clearly expressed within Scripture. Finally, Corpus Christi
is a Roman Catholic festival celebrating the transubstantiation
of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ through the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Thoughts on Grace
In Love with Life
On a visit with my mother last winter, she told me about a recording she once had of Brother David Steindl-Rast, a well-known Benedictine monk. The old cassette tape had long since been lost but she recalled one line clearly: "It's not the happy people who are grateful. It's the grateful people who are happy."
With Many Blessings,
Those two simple sentences have stuck with me, my mind wandering back over them almost daily. Not long ago I read another quote along the same lines, this one by Rabbi Hyman Schachtel: "Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have."
Today I came upon a third quote. My favorite of the three, Jack Kerouac said, "Be in love with your life. Every minute of it." (For those of you who know me even a little, you know I speak the language of the heart.) I can feel gratitude... I can choose happiness...
And I can marvel at every minute I'm alive - at the birds singing and the sun shining and the stars whirling overhead and the babies and the old people and the poetry and the text messages and the friends and lovers and the coffee and the cars and the breath inside my chest - and feel totally, unimaginably, humbly grateful, and happy.
Rev. Hannah Grace