Friday Five – Happy Birthday, Sally!

Yay! My first Friday Five in the new digs! 🙂 Sally posts a fun one this week:

First: Superbowl ( someone explain to this Brit the significance)- love it or hate it? 5 reasons please!!!!!
Second: Candlemas / Imbolc / Groundhog day / St Brigid’s day- all of these fall on either the 1st or 2nd February.
1. Do you celebrate one or more of these?
2. How?
3. Is this a bit of fun or deeply significant?
4. Are festivals / Saint’s days important to you?
5.Name your favourite Saint’s day / celebration.

Okay, so the Superbowl. I’m pretty funny when it comes to sports. (1) I admire virtuosity in any field, so I tend to start paying attention to the NFL during the play-offs, and I try to watch the Superbowl most years. It is great to watch some really beautiful plays on the field, to admire the grace under pressure that the quarterback particularly must show. (2) And I always love to say things like, “Did you see that pass? That was really pretty!” It annoys the menfolk, ’cause there’s no pretty in football! (3) While it’s somewhat annoying how mercenary the game is, I do enjoy watching the commercials during the Superbowl, when the ad companies have really worked hard to create something memorable. (4) I don’t have much (Go Eagles!) in the way (Boo, Steelers!) of strong (Yay, Jags!) feelings (No Redskins!) for NFL teams (Beat those Cowboys!), so I really don’t feel all that invested in the outcome. I tend to pick a team – sometimes changing mid-game – but my universe doesn’t end if my chosen team doesn’t win. My high school mascot was the Patriots, and it will be really cool if the Patriots can pull off a perfect season this year, so that wasn’t a hard choice. Sometimes, knowing the teams are relatively equal, and given that I don’t have a strong preference one way or the other, it really does come down to who has the nicer uniforms. (I know – I’m such a GIRL!) And (5) you don’t get to see it as much on tv as you do when you go to a live game, but is there any nicer sight than that line of men’s tushes on the sideline, especially with the big shoulder pads to make their butts look niiiiiiiiiice in their tight little pants. Yum!

So now, on to the “real” list for this week.

1. Do I celebrate Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhog Day, St. Brigid’s Day?

Well… yes and no – it all depends on the meaning of the word celebrate. 🙂 But I will say yes to all four, since the real meat to this question is in number two…

2. How?

Candlemas is an interesting day, the day Mary went to the temple for ritual purification, and to present Jesus to the priests in the temple. And while they are there, the long-lived and well-tired Simeon saw Jesus and recognized him, and said the words that we now use at Compline or at Evening Prayer:

Lord, you now have set your servant free, to go in peace as you have promised. For these eyes of mine have seen the Saviour, whom you have prepared for all the world to see. A Light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people, Israel.

I don’t tend to do anything big for Candlemas. I’m not clergy, so I don’t bless candles or throats. But perhaps this year, as I kindle a flame in honour of St. Brigid, I will ask God’s blessing over my tiny flame, that it will be a trusty light in the darkness, and that maybe I can be a light in the darkness for others, too.

Now, Imbolc is the pagan festival sacred to Brigid of the Gaels, as this day is also the feast day for St. Brigid. There is some question as to whether these are the same person, or are legends based on the same person. I don’t like to debate this, because I know that there is truth to be found in both the goddess Brigid and the saint Brigid. It’s much like the question whether John of Patmos and John the Evangelist and John the beloved disciple are the same person – it really doesn’t matter to me; they all bear truth and light from God. It does mean something to me to mark the passage of the wheel of the year. Life on February 2 is different from life on May 2 or on November 1. We are halfway through winter now, halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox. The light has been returning to the world, but now is when this really starts to be noticeable. I recently learned a Brigidine meditation, based on three flames that she kindles and tends: the fire of the hearth, the fire of healing, and the fire of inspiration. It can be powerful to meditate on these flames within myself, within my home, within my life, within the world. So for Imbolc, I kindle a flame in honour of Brigid, and I rejoice in the return of the light and the rebirth of the world in spring.

For Groundhog Day, I greet people with Happy Groundhog Day! because it’s just silly and fun. And I idly watch the news for stories of which groundhogs see their shadows and which do not. I learned that Groundhog Day was also known as Hedgehog Day, and on this day last year, one of our beloved pet hedgehogs died.

And for the feast of St. Brigid, I like to kindle a flame, to read stories about her, and when I’m feeling crafty, to try to weave a St. Brigid’s cross. Since I’m not very crafty, this usually does not turn out very well. But it’s a fun thing to do with my daughter.

3. Is this a bit of fun, or deeply significant?

As you could see from the answer to (two) above, there is some of both. And I think, it is important to retain a bit of fun in the things that are deeply significant. Jesus had a marvelous sense of humour – as I believe all three persons of the Trinity do – and I believe that the things that are most important to us are things that we should engage in with all of ourselves… and that includes our humour, our delight, our sense of play, our wonder, our laughter.

4. Are festivals and Saints’ feast days important to me?

Yup. 🙂 While I may not do anything intentional to celebrate most of them, I do look at the Kalendar, and I like to learn about the saint being venerated on particular day. When I find out the birthday of a friend, I usually go look up the saints who have feasts on that day, just like I figure out their horoscope sign. It can be a bit of fun, but there is always something to be learned from absolutely everyone.

5. What is my favourite feast day?

Hmmmmmm. That’s hard to answer. I like the Feast of Our Lord – that would be Sunday – because we get to celebrate it so often. The Feast of All Saints is very powerful, but I am powerfully moved by the beauty of the Feast of All Souls. I love the Feast of St. Brigid, and I’m also fond of John the Evangelist (on my daughter’s birthday!), Mary Magdalene, Dymphna (patroness of the mentally ill), Hildegard of Bingen, Francis de Sales, and Therese of Lisieux.

This was a fun play, Sally – thank you, and have a blessed birthday!

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