Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Candlemas Song

The beginning of February brings the celebration of the Celtic festival of Imbolc, Brigid's Day and the Christian festival of Candlemas. Imbolc marks the coming of Spring, the warming of the earth and the still-hidden possibility of new growth. Brigid is associated with everlasting fire, and with the abundance of the natural world at springtime. She is also said to be the mid-wife of Christ, just as the season of Imbolc is thought of as the 'mid-wifing' of the year.

Mary, the mother of Christ, is also celebrated at this point of the year. The feast of Candlemas tells the story of Mary and Joseph taking the child Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to dedicate him to God. They offer a sacrifice in thanksgiving for their child and Mary receives purification after the rigours of childbirth. As they enter the Temple, Mary and Joseph are approached by the wise and aged Simeon, who praises God for the child who will bring light to the whole world. Having seen the promised holy child, Simeon places himself into God’s hands knowing that the end of his life is near. But Simeon also speaks dark words to Mary: there will be opposition to her son, and suffering and sorrow will pierce Mary’s heart like a sword – the pain of motherhood.

This poem, which I wrote for Imbolc last year, reflects on Mary’s experience in the Temple, the significance of her child and the themes of light, warmth and new growth which the Imbolc season expresses.

    Candlemas Song

    I was not there.
    I did not dream my way
    up prayer-worn Temple steps
    as you did, Christ-Mother, that day.

    I was not there.
    I did not scan the gloom
    or clutch a hand for courage
    in the Temple waiting-room.

    I was not there.
    I did not hear the praise
    which ancient ones sang of your child
    at the midnight of their days.

    I was not there.
    I did not feel the sting
    which bitter-sweet horizons
    of your motherhood will bring.

    But I am here.
    And I would know a birth
    to bring Divine Light’s love
    into an aching, longing earth.

    Yes, I am here.
    And I would do my part.
    O let a rising blade of Spring
    strike fire into my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I absolutely love this poem! Thank you so much for sharing. x


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