Monday, January 11, 2010

plough monday

one of the many celtic celebrations we've pretty much lost is plough monday. since fewer and fewer of us are farmers these days, and more and more of us "celebrate" christmas by working more and more during advent and "the holidays," it makes sense that we would not celebrate the resumption of work after a period of time off. most of us did not make our advent wreath by taking a wheel off the wagon, so we don't need to put it back. we are more likely to look at today as another "blue monday" than as a holiday.

but there is, i think, a way we who do not live in the scilly islands can still benefit from this day, the monday after the first sunday after the epiphany. remember the reading from the gospel for christmas day, when we were told that "mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart"? there is a refrain of that idea in the gospel for the first sunday after the epiphany, when we are told that "his mother kept all these sayings in her heart." we should follow mary's lead and keep these sayings [from the christmas season] and ponder them in our hearts as well. it is very easy quickly to get caught up in the next rush, which i guess in the year of the church of "it's-the-economy-stupid" is valentine's day, when we are supposed to buy diamonds, and if not diamonds, then at least very expensive candy.

we can keep something from the season just ending quietly within our hearts through each of the days ahead. it may be a particular reading, or carol, or something we have heard a friend say. it can be something as simple as the words from a child's carol. but it can be for us as a mantra, so that we might live somewhat as we are told every year by someone announcing a holiday parade or a news story about a soup kitchen, who tells us how wonderful it would be if every day were christmas. my choice for a child's carol was probably sung by each of us. here are some of its words, to keep in my heart on plough monday:

"how silently, how silently
the wondrous gift is given!
so god imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heaven.
no ear may his his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him still,
the dear christ enters in.

o holy child of bethlehem
descend to us, we pray
cast out our sin and enter in
be born to us today."