Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Feast Day of St. Brigid

Today is the feast day of St. Brigid, one of the patron saints of Ireland. She is one of the early Christians who stood at the intersection of Christianity, Druidism and the other pagan religions of Ireland. She is also one of those extraordinary women who did amazing things, despite the patriarchal culture in which she lived.

Like so many of our early Christian church mothers, she felt called by God from a very early age.  She resisted attempts to get her married:  one account has her scooping out her diseased eye in protest of an impending marriage--and later, healing her dangling eyeball by putting it back in her head.  When we go back to read about the lives of women in medieval times, it's amazing that more women didn't fight harder to go join the cloistered life.

St. Brigid founded some of the first Christian monasteries in Ireland, most famously the legendary one in Kildare.  She also founded a school of art that focuses on metal working and illumination.  The illustrated manuscript, the Book of Kildare, was created under her auspices.  Unfortunately, it's been lost since the Reformation, so we know it by its reputation only.

She's also famous for her generosity, especially to the poor.  She showed this compassion early on, giving away all of her mother's butter to a poor person--and then, by her prayers, the butter was restored.

There are so many ways we might celebrate her feast day.  To celebrate her generosity, today would be a good day to give away some of our stockpile, secure in the knowledge that we'll find abundance as we need it.

To celebrate her miracles, which involved abundances of butter, milk, and beer, we could bake some bread and slather it with butter.

To celebrate her artistic tendencies, we could start an illuminated book of our own.  How would our lives change if we kept a daily book that illustrated all the miraculous abundance that we found in the world?

But above all, today is a good day to consider our own lives.  If centuries from now, a middle-aged woman read about your life as you’re living it, would she be inspired?

Across a space of centuries, Brigid inspires me.  I'd like to be a similar inspiration.

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