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Blessed St. Brigid's Day

Today is St. Brigid’s Day, a day to remember one of my favourite saints in history, St. Brigid of Kildare. I was first drawn to her because fire is one of her symbols, and I love candles, fireplaces, and other contained forms of fire.

The more I’ve learned about her over the years, the more my love for her has grown. In a time when women were considered chattel and obligated to follow the decrees of fathers and husbands, Brigid dared to speak up for what she wanted, which was to become a nun and follow a path of service and learning. She was very creative in how she countered her father’s opposition and by the age of 20, had taken religious vows.

A few years later, she felt a desire to establish a convent where other women could dedicate themselves to learning and to service to the poor and asked the king for land for her endeavour. He laughed and refused. Brigid then asked if he would give her as much land as her cloak could cover. He agreed. Brigid gathered four others to help her, and each took a corner of her cloak and spread it over the land. It grew to cover acres.

There are many other stories about her which reveal her creativity, her sense of humour, and her passionate protection of the most vulnerable in her society—women and children.

As I contemplate St. Brigid’s life this year, what speaks to me is how she never dismissed anything or anyone as being beneath notice. Whether it was churning cream to give butter to poor families, tending women in labour, or asking the king for land the size of her cloak, she gave attention to what others around her tended to dismiss.

This encourages me at on this first day of February when it feels like winter will continue indefinitely. As the patron saint of new life, St. Brigid reminds me that spring stirs far beneath the snow and frozen ground. I light a candle before dawn, and note how the small flame gives light to the entire room

In her memory, I remember that my own small acts do matter. I can’t remove a loved one’s heartache, but I can let them know I care. I can’t change the social support system in my province to genuinely help those who struggle with mental health challenges, but I can be present to the friend who needs a listening ear.

When I remember that my small gestures matter, the way in which I engage with life changes. I tend to my own hurting heart with small actions of self care, which then enables me to offer a smile to a stranger, greet the store clerk with cheerfulness, and perhaps even make room for a fellow driver to merge in ahead of me.

I am reminded of a quote from the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that’s overwhelm the world.”

From a blessing for St. Brigid:

“Brigid, you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.

Strengthen what is weak within us.

Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.

May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit. Amen.”

Wishing you blessings for St. Brigid’s Day

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