Today is the Feast of Candlemas,
which echoes themes found in many traditions around this time –
new life, the first budding of plants, the return of the sun –
light and warmth at the halfway point between the winter and the spring solstices.
We need constant reminders of the presence of light.
We are stars wrapped in skin,
The light you are seeking has always been within.
thank you, Karl Duffy @ Mindfulbalance
These days and nights are extremely cold. Not something that even people who have lived in these North Carolina mountains a long time are accustomed to. This has been my home now for three years. I am beginning to remember the art of layering clothes to stay warm from my years in Colorado – just in time!!
Some of the nights have stirred with bitter winds bringing the temp to -17 and below. My assistant stayed with me overnight on one of the coldest nights last week. Worried that the power might go out or the roads could be too icy for my morning assistant to travel, she gave extra time to her job with concern and compassion. She knew if there was a problem I would not be left alone. Her offer came without request. I was and am grateful. My home is warmed with shelter and heat. There are people who check to see if I need anything. I do feel the cold but not alone.
Not true for everyone. There are many who meet these cold nights without shelter and warmth. Businesses throughout town talk about finding people asleep up against their front doors when they arrive to work each day. Not everyone has a home and shelters throughout the city fill quickly. So there are homeless people who huddle against the walls of office doorways finding some protection from wind and feeling some warmth from the building’s heat. My heart knows compassion for people homeless and lost. Like so many other things — I know I may not be able to change this but I must be aware – awareness is a part of life’s sacred journey.
I share the reflection below. May it offer a way to pray for protection, comfort and hope for those seeking shelter and those who are lost.
On cold winter nights, when Mother Earth sleeps soundly beneath her blankets of snow, the Spirit walks in silence, seeking any who have become lost on their way home. There is no life left unnoticed by God. There is no child forgotten, no elder dismissed, no prisoner unworthy of recognition, no addict left alone, no lonely soul abandoned. Even the hidden ones among us, the silent ones who try to bear their burdens unspeaking, are under the watchful eye of their Maker. On even the coldest nights, the Spirit walks the back roads and the city streets, holding the light of love just a little higher, for those who expect to see only shadow.
Bp. Steven Charleston.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)
I really like this portrayal of the Magi given to us by the artist, He Qi. These three kings look to be resting so peacefully. During this time of angel visits and instructions through dreams, there is a sense of awakening but no fear. Ideas are planted and their deep trust in the signs and wonders of their own faith tradition encourage them to pack for adventure and follow the prophetic star.
It is Epiphany – a time when we hear stories of innocence and evil. A child free from guilt is born and ‘angels in their joy dance across the sky with song’. Good news is sent to shepherds and visions to kings far to the East. The earth is electric with hope and celebration.
But as always the story is balanced with other reactions. The ruling Roman king, Herod, does not find this birth good news but a threat. He would turn the joyful moments into horror killing small boys as an act of ultimate insecurity.
Something about this story feels painfully familiar. Our world today is filled with examples of horrible actions taken due to insecurity and greed. So how do we recognize the news from angels in our dreams and live in hope?
Isaiah’s prophetic wisdom reminds us that through darkness light shines. We hear his cry, ‘Arise, shine for your light has come.’ This is a call to action. We must carry that light like a candle needing shelter in the wind. For it is still a young flame and it’s earthly protectors are still forming family.
When the kings and shepherds have returned to their homes, we are still here, present as this young family begins a risky journey to Egypt so to hide in safety until they can return to their own land and make home.
It is Epiphany. A time of enlightenment and honor. Like those wise ones from the East, may we pay attention to our surroundings and nurture our own faith-in-practice.
(Grateful thanks is given for the inspiration shared by John Foley S. J.)