Words of Light and Hope from Bishop Tony Foottit
Snowdrops have the lovely name of Candlemas Bells, appearing as they do for Candlemas (on 2 Feb).
On this day two old pensioners, Simeon and Anna, received Mary and Joseph and their baby son in the temple at Jerusalem. Simeon and Anna put some of us older ones to shame. They did not retire into their shells. They actively welcomed Mary and Joseph and their baby into the temple.
One of the joys of growing older is to experience a second childhood. The very old and the very young sometimes develop a mutual understanding. In these days when families are no longer naturally extended networks, old friends become even more important. The challenge to us older ones is to accept increasing disability with good grace, and yet to ripen – continue our explorations in this world in readiness for the next. When we are older, we specially need consolation and encouragement. To bring young and old together is a vital role of the Church in every place.
Candlemas has another long name. It is also called the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary – not that Mary in her virginity needed any purifying, but she and Joseph were following the custom of the time, in taking their baby to the temple with an offering of two doves. Doves were the least expensive kind of offering – one that poor people could make, as opposed to richer people who could afford a lamb. The snowdrops signal that a fresh start can be made.
Even in older age there is always the possibility of turning over a new leaf. Snowdrops are such a pure white. Cleanliness, they say, is next to godliness. We can all, however young or old, make a fresh endeavour to prevent the pollution of our beautiful world.