Candlemas is one of those asterisked Church holidays whose origins suggest roots in pre-Christian northern Europe. Oh, sure, we have Baby Jesus being presented in the Temple; we have the tradition of blessing the year's church candles. But we kind of know, deep deep down, that this is really all about light; about that cusp of darkness and light, death and rebirth, that touches those of us in the Northern Hemisphere in a primal, intuitive way right about now: longer days, but days lit by greasy, dim skies; days that alternate between bitter, dry cold and the rawness of rain and snow melt.
I found this prayer the other day and thought it was fitting for the first week of February, around here.
God of all creation,
of bare forest and low northern skies,
of paths unknown and never to be taken,
of bramble, sparrow and damp, dark earth.
We thank you for loss, for the breaking of the dimming year,
We thank you for light, even in its seeming midwinter failing,
We thank you for life, for its hope and resistance,
Like a seed dying and living.