Today is May Day, the first day of the “lusty month of May.” That winking lyric from the Lerner and Loewe musical “Camelot” is a hint at the ancient observation of this month in the wheel of the year as a time for sacred recreation and, a bit more specifically, sacred procreation.
We always feel a certain kind of way at certain times of the year. It is usually a reflection of the amount of sunlight, activity, social interaction and nourishment we get in the ebb and flow of the seasons. As these individually flourish or fail, we are emotionally, and probably energetically, affected by it.
Our various religious rituals, each in line with its own scriptures, address these intrinsic, annual, human concerns in their own way. The May Day Beltane celebration is one of them.
Let’s talk about sex. It is certainly an anecdotal understanding that spring is a time of year for the renewal of life, of both flora as well as fauna. For the purposes of this discussion, we are in the fauna category. And in the spring, the fauna get … busy.
It’s easy to understand why this would be so. After animals have survived the winter, procreating in the spring ensures offspring that will be strong enough by the following winter to survive and mature into adulthood.
We, as humans, feel this same animalistic pull. As the production of serotonin in our brains increases with more exposure to the increasing sunlight of spring, we become happier and, therefore, typically more amorous. We begin to emerge outside and socialize with potential partners. We shed our bulky winter clothing and reveal our bodies to one another.
Coming out of hibernation is a process of emergence that includes a subconscious desire to ensure our legacy as humans. We are mammals, too, after all, and, as such, we feel the same rhythms of nature as all mammals do.
Being accepting of this part of our nature means we should take a look at the sexual act and test our attitude a bit about it. How do you feel about this column? How do you feel about the fact that a minister is talking about sex? Are you glad? Are you embarrassed? Do you feel shame or elation? Are you mad at me? Or do you think it’s about time?
Analyzing our feelings about sex often reveals a lot about our feelings of self-worth and the health of the environments in which we were raised. Do you feel shame when you think about sex? How’s that going for you?
Sex, in my opinion, is a powerful force for change and of prayer. Many people would agree with the idea that it is equivalent to a religious experience.
Does that embarrass you? Consider rethinking that position. As long as sex is consensual and occurring within the scope of our best interest and the best interest of our partner, God likely approves.
Let’s let go of some of our preconceived and judgmental understandings about simply enjoying the act for its own sake.
There is likely much going on that we cannot perceive or understand when we are bonding with another person. We are energetic beings, after all. We are more than we can tell. We are walking fields of electromagnetic energy. When our fields overlap, something occurs. When they overlap in physical union, that something is likely magical.
Be grateful that you feel so good. Express gratitude at your ecstasy. Be glad that you are capable of experiencing such a miracle. Then let that energy do what it will and go where it is needed most. The energy created is yours to do with as you choose. What will you choose to do with it?
As a mentor of teenagers years ago, I was often asked about when it’s OK to lose one’s virginity. Knowing that teenagers will do whatever they darn well wish the moment adult backs are turned, as I very certainly did, I was nonresistant to the fact that they were going to make their own decisions whether I liked it or not.
So I told them that if they decided to go ahead with it, they should insist that the other person know of and respect their boundaries — even if those boundaries change mid-act. At any point that someone says no, even if for days, weeks or months they’ve been saying yes, no means no. That is not a boundary that should be crossed.
I told them that their body is a temple and that they deserved to be worshipped in their temple. And if their anticipated partner was not capable of such things, then either they were not the right partner or it was not the right time. I asked them what story they would like to tell their daughter someday when they ask them how they lost their own virginity. More often than not, with these new thoughts in mind, they chose to wait.
My hope is that once they finally decided to engage in it, they had a solid understanding of the type of respect they were entitled to.
How much respect are you demanding for yourself? The sexual act will ring no bell if you are miserable throughout. You will not grow from it, you will be diminished by it.
This is not an argument in favor of or against casual sex. Sometimes casual sex can be truly amazing. Sometimes the marital bed is a violation. Only you can know whether or not you are experiencing the ecstasy you deserve and the intimacy we all need. Stand up for yourself and your sexuality. They are a gift of our human experience and quite an illuminating textbook as well.
Wil Darcangelo, M.Div., is the minister at First Parish UU Church of Fitchburg and of First Church of Christ Unitarian in Lancaster. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @wildarcangelo. His blog, Hopeful Thinking, can be found at www.hopefulthinkingworld.blogspot.com.