Charistia Ode

Ode for the Charistia
(February 23)

In Roman times, the year began on the first of March, and so a series of festivals near the end of February functioned much as our holiday Christmas season does now. They were a time to renew old friendships, celebrate past year, mourn the dead, and settle accounts. Part of this festive time were the three festivals of 22-24 February: The Feralia, for making peace with the dead on 22 February; the Charistia, for making peace with the living on 23 February; and the Terminalia, for renewing the boundaries of the community, on the 24th.

Hail, bright Charistia, day of mending,
when holes in life’s fabric must be sewn shut.
Today is good for arguments’ ending,
that the cables of old feuds may be cut,
and new patterns woven in lives of peace!
Forgiveness always seems hard at the start
but becomes easier by long habit;
for when we let anger go in release
we add a secret chamber to the heart
where honor and good fortune cohabit.

Today I take comfort from friends and kin,
and search out peace with neighbors far and wide.
To extend the right hand is far from sin,
since it feeds hope to tiny birds inside,
who grow fat and sing as well-being grows,
and harmonize sweetly with others’ ease.
Community grows best when all is right
among all its members; everyone knows
good will creates far more chances to please
than noon flattery and curses at night.

Today, fair spirits of intercession,
help me repair loves and friendships broken.
Bid my fondness for old quarrels lessen;
make my apologies more than token.
To enemies, lead me with open hand;
to rivals, guide me with hugs and warm words;
From friends let me receive tears and cheering.
Solitude is a foundation of sand;
hand intertwined with hand prepares and girds
the acorn for the oak, thick and branching.

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