At 7:30 Monday morning, January 31, as I turned east on 86th street, I was struck, full in the face, by the sun. It was my own Manhattan Stonehenge – the tall apartment buildings perfectly framed that blinding ball.
An auspicious beginning to a week of markings.
Planetarily speaking, Feb 2 is mid-way between the Winter solstice and the Vernal equinox. No coincidence, then, that we have a veritable anthropological dig of observances this week, with strata from various geographies, traditions and beliefs.
- We have Imbolc, from pre-Christian Celts, which, I understand, anticipates springtime and the lactation of the ewes. The feast belongs to Brigid, later transformed into a Christian saint.
- There is Candlemas, from the Christian tradition, which celebrates the consecration of Jesus in the temple, 40 days after his birth. It was overlaid onto Imbolc.
- Here, in the U.S., we have Groundhog Day.
It strikes me that, as children of the earth, we monitor and mark the larger cycles of planetary movements and seasons because we are so affected by them. In earlier times, when we were more susceptible to winter’s hardships, reaching this half-way point meant we might live to see another Spring.
Thus far, we have been hibernating in our winter bodies and minds, perhaps chewing over and digesting some new information, or formulating a plan; perhaps integrating new learnings; perhaps spending time in more contemplative ways; perhaps just getting more sleep. And who couldn’t use more sleep.
We live the cycles and opposites: light and dark, beginnings and endings, action and contemplation, gestating and birthing, growing and dying. And, when the current phase feels too much with us, as perhaps does this spate of winter, we hope for change. We long for more daylight. We, perhaps, long for what the light can mean – not just change, but transformation. And, not just at the surface, but at our core.
I see, in Christ, the kind of transformative love that brings real change; a model for how to live; and, a human life fully shot through with the divine. I see, in myself, the yearning for those things, moments where it has actually happened, and times when I have certainly fallen short. And, so, I see that my heart, my mind and my soul all experience the cycles and opposites that the outside world so gloriously reveals to us in its seasons and changes.
As above, so below. As without, so within.