In the Christian Calendar today is the feast of Candlemas, reflecting the deep human need to mark this period between the winter and the spring solstices. The celebration of light gave encouragement in those years when the darkness seemed to be never-ending. This can also apply to the seasons in our lives
Any deep wound or loss can be transformed into fierce grace when we meet the pain with a caring presence. We can find grace I the immediacy of a frightening experience or in working with long-held trauma. Although the pain fo trauma may lead us to believe that our spirit has been tainted or destroyed, that isn’t so. Waves of fear or shame may possess us temporarily, but as we continue to entrust ourselves to loving presence, as we let ourselves feel loved, our lives become more and more an expression of who or what we are.
This is the essence of grace – homecoming to who we are.
In Ireland, the first day of February marks the start of Spring, as an old poem we learnt in school states: Anois teacht an Earraigh beidh an lá dul chun síneadh, – “Now Spring is coming and the days will start getting longer“. It is the Celtic feast of Imbolc, one of their four great seasonal fire festivals, this one halfway between solstices, with themes of light and fertility, hidden seeds and new life.
In the Irish Christian calendar this became St Brigid’s Day, (Lá Fhéile Bríde), which this year is marked for the first time by a Bank Holiday and has given rise to a lot of interest in Brigid, especially here in County Kildare.. This interest in the feminine principle in nature and spirituality reflects a desire to move away the predominant patriarchal and power-based paradigm found in Western society – and in most religious traditions – and to find new ways of thinking and relating and being.
From a spiritual vantage point our major life task is much larger than making money, finding a mate, having a career, raising children, looking beautiful, achieving psychological health, or defying aging, illness, and death. It is a recognition of the sacred in daily life — a deep gratitude for the wonders of the world and the delicate web of inter-connectedness between people, nature and things — a recognition that true intimacy based on respect and love is the measure of a life well lived. This innate female spirituality underlies an often unspoken commitment to protect our world from the ravages of greed and violence
Joan Borysenko, A Woman’s Book of Life: The Biology, Psychology, and Spirituality of the Feminine Life Cycle
Come, my friends,
T’is not too late to seek a newer world.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
Do you know where the disease lies which keeps you from reaching enlightenment? It lies where you have no faith in yourself.
When faith in yourself is lacking you find yourself hurried by others in every possible way. At every encounter you are no longer your own master; you are driven about by others this way and that. All that is required is all at once to cease leaving yourself in search of something external. When this is done you will find yourself no different from the Buddha.
From the Rinzai Roku, the recorded sayings and doings of Zen master Rinzai Gigen Zenji, died 866 CE
Consumed with anger,
The world is an ugly place.
Bathed in happiness,
The world is a wonderful place.
But….aha! It’s the same world.
Taitetsu Unno, 1929 – 2014, scholar and author on Pure Land Buddhism, Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble turn into Gold
There is no reality except the one contained within us.
That is why so many people live such an unreal life.
They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.
Hermann Hesse Demian