02 February 2007

Candlemas, a Goddess, and a Pregnant Seminarian

I didn't want to go to chapel today.

Today is Candlemas. Surely there are others out there afflicted with the same eye-rolling tick irritated by words like "Candlemas." Anything that ends in "-mas" makes me think there will be a weird Christian legend having to do with knights or nobles or somebody's first contact with visigoths or something. If you have any such ticks, I'll tell you it can become chronic at seminaries. People really live up these special occasion days; it is like drawing the Princess Frostine card in CandyLand for some of my colleagues. I try to avoid these festive occasions because...it makes me tick. I only went up the stairs into the chapel because my friends were going. It was inertia. Me and my big belly went slowly up the stairs, grudgingly lit a beeswax candle, and hummed along with the Anglican chant.

Right away there was talk about hope, and light, and I started to thaw toward the pesky "mas"-ing. Then I heard a pretty rad sermon, reminding me that we weren't just celebrating Jesus as the light of world; we were celebrating Mary's first trip back to the Temple after the 40 required days of "purification." I was also reminded that this "mas" takes over where we used to celebrate goddesses all around the world, on the smack middle day between winter solstice with spring equinox. Fire was a part of these goddess celebrations, the preacher preached. I looked down at the tiny flame of my beeswax candle. I rubbed by belly. I felt fertile, and connected. Finally, I decided to give Candlemas a few mental props.

I never understood the draw of Epiphany; talk about "light of the world" makes me nervous, and apart from cornering evangelicals into talking about astrology, I didn't have much use for Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. So, I didn't expect to get a buzz from another weird light ritual at this time of year. I kinda liked it, though, when it was all over. The fire and goddess stuff helped, and so did remembering that Mary is almost eclipsed in the Gospel, being 40 days post-birth. From here on out she thinks Jesus is crazy and hangs around for death. For the first time I wondered really concrete things about Mary's state at that time: did she feel overwhelmingly sad and really dread going to hand Jesus over to weird old men and women? Was she embarrassed to give pigeons instead of turtledoves (Did she wish she had a McLaren stroller instead of a hand-me-down Graco?)? I had some bonding time with Mary there for a minute. And I was a little proud to have my candle in one hand and my belly in the other and think of the goddess quietly to myself in my seminary chapel. I took my beeswax candle with me, and remember that it was blessed with holy water while I was busy doing my inner eye-roll. Good thing it's not about me.


Blogger Katie Knoll said...

7 hun? Not too many? I dont have that many close girl friends, I was spoiled with 2 great sisters and from then on, my expectations for female companionship has been too high for anyone to come close to being trusted.

10:26 AM  

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