My collection of poem-prayers Barefoot Ways comes to its natural end with the festival of Candlemas on 2nd February. I hesitated quite a long time before including the Candlemas entry, as it emphasises the darker side of Luke’s account of the presentation of Christ in the Temple, namely the chilling words of old Simeon to the young mother Mary.
Focusing on them is perhaps especially appropriate this year when news of brutal persecution of Christians and others is all too commonly heard. And also this year because there is such short gap between Candlemas and Ash Wednesday. We need to move very quickly from celebration to austerity.
Also, as it happens, because my Lent collection of poem prayers Barefoot Prayers begins on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, this year these two collections between them offer a poem-prayer every single day (apart from 4) from 1 December 2015 to 3 April 2016.
Enough of that, however. The focus of this blog is Candlemas, which commemorates the story told in the second chapter of Luke’s gospel, and on which the following is a meditation.
We should have seen it coming, but
no one did. Luke’s version was so
tidy, a tale of two children,
two mothers, one silent man,
an angel, a walk, a leap and
And then a third song, different in
tone: tired and yet fulfilled,
glimpsing the longed-for light
yet seeking escape.
A prelude to a blessing, and in the
blessing we had hoped, assumed,
dared to expect …
Now there’s a hope.
How slow of heart!
How self-serving our understanding!
Words come: gnomic, unwelcome.
They speak of
revelation, no less.
We had hoped for a new order.
We are offered a new chaos.
What light is this, but a new darkness?
At last it comes. The word that cleaves
the air and stuns us, arresting our
senses and losing Anna’s delight in its wake.
After this, her presence – calm itself – is lost
‘There will be a sword.’
A sword, no less.
through your young soul, young
I ponder that, as I pray to depart