In the old Celtic/Gaelic calendar February 1st is the start of Spring, which, in the very mild winter we are having this year, seems right. It was the Celtic feast of Imbolc, falling midway between the winter and spring solstices, a celebration of fertility and growth involving the lighting of fires. In the Christian calendar this became Lá Fhéile Bríde, St Brigid’s Day, and maintained some of the same fertility themes in the folk traditions. Similarly today, the feast of Candlemas, saw the blessing of candles for use in the home. It would seem that there was a need for people to remind themselves of warmth and light at this halfway point, as a reminder that new growth will soon be here.
At different times, I too find myself at midway points, not quite sure where I am arriving, but too far away from where I started from to recognize it and go back. We have no overall map for this journey; we may not even have a candle, lose our sense of direction and easily get lost. As Dante found, it’s as if we are “midway in this way of life we’re bound upon …. in a dark wood, where the right road was wholly lost and gone”. The trick may be to work with the experience of being lost without believing the story that we actually are, not letting “how I feel” become the story of “who I am”. This keeps our energy joyful on the journey, not hooked by stories of where we should be.
Things are always in transition if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we would like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. The spiritual journey involves going beyond hope and fear, stepping into unknown territory, continually moving forward. The most important aspect of being on the spiritual path may be to just keep moving.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Hard times.