The 2nd of February, traditionally called Candlemas Day, is located mid way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It has long been associated with forecasting the weather as the Old Folk’s poem relates: –
If Candlemas Day be dry and fair
The half o’ the Winter’s to come and mair
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul
The half o’ the Winter’s gone at yule.
Today as we bask in winter sunshine it looks ominous! We have more than half of the Winter to come! Not that such considerations will impact on the crowds gathering at the Aviva Stadium to witness the gargantuan struggle on the rugby field between England and Ireland.
What takes place on the pitch in the combat between two nations comes at a time when the Brexit battle is reaching a climax. The conditions the UK have agreed with Brussels for leaving the EC have just one piece missing – that of the Irish backstop.
No I am not referring to the Irish full-back Robbie Henshaw, although he may well earn that title today! It is the earlier agreement to have no border checks between North and South of Ireland. This part of the withdrawl agreement the UK have reneged upon this week providing Ireland with yet more incentive to put their Rugby Team to the sword on the fields of Aviva!
Both teams have their anthems which are sung by their fans to provide encouragement during the game. The English side gain inspiration from a song about death! “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is a spiritual – a type of song created by African people enslaved in the US. It has a haunting melody as it depicts a chariot swing down and collecting the singers to take them home. I expect some if not all of the team may wish to be taken home if today’s game goes the way it is expected!
The Irish anthem is even more haunting as the heart wrenching strains of “The Fields of Athenry” a song full of anti-English sentiment, floats over the field. It depicts a young man, having stolen corn during the famine to keep his family alive, being deported to Botany Bay in Australia. He leaves behind the girl he loves and their child to fend for themselves.
Interestingly both songs were written in the recent past. Both deal with the human struggle. We need to take St Paul’s advice when he says we need Christ.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians Chapter 6 verses 10 to 12). As the old hymn tells it; “The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own”.