Community · Life on the Island · Uncategorized

Imbolc

I drove my younger son to work at a local market around 5:00 PM last night. Though the sun had officially set already, the sky remained light enough to not need the headlights for the fifteen minutes it took for me to get home. These little moments, long before Spring arrives, allow me a smile and a contented sigh.

How did we get to a place where January feels longer than any other month? Several have remarked upon it. There’s even a meme that I used last year complaining about it. Once again, this year we’re into February, a short month, and it feels like it will be smooth sailing until Spring.

It won’t be of course. Though we just had the warmest January on record, there is still plenty of winter left. We also have lots of experience with Spring snow. There’s the April Fools storm several years ago that people still talk about, and the year that it hardly snowed at all until March 10, my younger son’s birthday. He is my winter loving child and fort-worthy snow for his birthday was the very best gift.

Today, February 1, is Imbolc, a Celtic festival recognizing the midway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is traditionally the beginning of the lambing season (don’t you want to go out to a farm and see lambs being born right now?) and a celebration of fertility. Because so much of Celtic tradition got subsumed into Catholic teaching and practice, it is also known as Candlemas, and St. Bridget’s Day. Of course there was no real St. Bridget, the name was borrowed from a Celtic goddess.

Mid-winter twilight, with moon.

I’d never really heard much about Imbolc until this year when I was suddenly seeing references to it all over social media. I wonder why that is. Are we reaching for signs of hope in these incredibly dark times? Is the growing disaffiliation with organized religion, or perhaps a greater awareness of climate change, causing us to seek a stronger connection with the natural world?

For me, I suppose it’s a combination of all three of these things. I am desperately seeking something hopeful and positive to focus on in this political climate. I am tired of watching the bad guys win; tired of losing hope. It’s not good for my health, either.

As I continue to search for a way to live my life in this new reality, the calming constant is nature, the sun, the circle of life things like lambing and looking for the new ducklings in Boston’s Public Garden every spring. I mark the days, mark the seasons with my observations; a probably half-assed form of mindfulness. I see time moving forward as I struggle not to lose any more ground.

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