Imbolc – Springtime for our future?


The month of January is a period of rest, where the earth is rejuvenating and moving slowly toward the re-awakening of spring. February 1 marked St. Brigit’s Day or the Celtic feast of Imbolc. This marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox, and really is the beginning of spring. Looking out my window right now it is hard to believe spring is around the corner, but the seasons do move forward and life begins again. When I was younger I loved the feeling winter brings with the first snowfall adding a blanket to the earth, covering the remains of autumn and allowing the plants a time to rest and rejuvenate. Then when spring finally does arrive it is a beautiful period when everything wakes from sleep and life renews. This photograph is one of my favorites from our Ireland pilgrimage – taken in the Imbolc garden at St. Brigit’s Gardens north of Galway.

What is it that you see when looking at the photograph? Is there hope for the future, or is this the last flower holding on as long as it can? I find the single red flower symbolic of good things to come, even as our country seems to be tearing itself down from the inside out. But that is perhaps the optimist in me talking. The point is that this flower is a fact that cannot be dismissed – what it truly means is up to each of us in our own way.

“An intelligent, kind man lived in our community for many years, and I admired him greatly. The prior, however, was constantly annoyed by this man’s independent thinking and gave him grief on every occasion. I’m not one to stand up quickly or forcefully, but this time I couldn’t watch the injustice quietly. I told the prior that I was quite disturbed at the way he was treating this valuable member of the community.

The next week my friend was asked unceremoniously and authoritatively to leave the community that loved him and of which he had been part for at least six years. He was told that his manner was a serious disturbance to the others. Several months later a small revolution took place in the politics of the order, and the prior lost his position.

I have no doubt about the necessity and fatefulness of my friend’s leave-taking, but I learned through strong emotions that spiritual authority can easily lose one of the soul’s greatest gifts – conscience. Righteousness can be a form of insanity in which conscience, protector of community, is swamped and undone by entitlement.”

Meditations on the Monk Who Dwells in Daily Life – Thomas Moore, 1994

I recently picked up Thomas Moore’s book and started reading it for the second time. About a third of the way in I ran across this short passage, and I could not help but reflect on the insanity that appears to have gripped our political processes over the last several weeks. A lot of really good people are being asked to leave – perhaps ‘asked’ is too polite a term. Moore’s story to me is a small microcosm of what our country is going through.

We are seeing a huge change in the internal dynamics and in how we are viewed by and how we view the rest of the world. Is our collective conscience suffering as the experienced people are being moved out of the way for this shift? Our government, which is supposed to be working for the collective good, is now being run by an ‘ultra-entitled’ executive branch, regardless of lack of experience, for what on the surface appears to be the good of the few. And the checks and balances we are supposed to gain through the legislative arm appear to be cowered by what is happening. While there does not appear to be an easy answer to any of this I can only urge you all to support the good people we have in our government, and hope they will have the strength to keep our country whole. I leave you with a final quote from an unlikely source, but the sentiment is true none-the-less.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Live long and prosper.”
Mr. Spock, Star Fleet

Terry Alexander

1 thought on “Imbolc – Springtime for our future?”

  1. I found the words of Merton deeply restful. And the loss of conscience overruled by authority is such an old but seriously deep idea. I watch the turbulence of the world and wonder about upside down. Below the surface of the polished rational veneer lies a smouldering seed ready to burst to a new life, I can’t help but wonder when. I have s sense of the archetypal feminine rising through these turbulent times … I see the statue in Galway, Woman emerging from stone and I think it is bigger than that. It is the Feminine and right relation to Ombolc. Seeds from the belly of the earth.
    Thanks a Terry!

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