Week of Groundhog’s Day. Saint Brigit’s Day. Candlemas.
Thresholds. It is a time of thresholds. Threshold between one thing and the next. The place before and between the other side or something new. New beginnings. Possibility.
As a self reflective starting point, listen to your own responses to these next questions before we move forward. Who believes we are at the peak of covid? The peak of this phase or headed to the “other side”? Who believes that spring is coming? Who believes that it’s all going to be okay? That the world isn’t falling apart? PAUSE. Just take a moment to notice your answers. No judgment, just an honest moment with what you are feeling.
Thresholds. This week is a time of thresholds. The between one thing and the next. There’s a lot of power in this place. Almost a Pause Point. A reassessing point.
It’s been a while since we’ve visited one of our Saints or historical figures. Today, we’re going to visit Saint Brigit. She’s an excellent Saint for these times, maybe especially if we didn’t like our answers to those questions above. She’s the Saint of thresholds.
She is a reminder that we can’t sit on the threshold forever. That change is coming and there will be new beginnings and new birth whether we like it or not. What makes her really interesting is she is a Saint that doesn’t stay put. She’s unpredictable and shows up in unexpected ways and in unexpected places. She doesn’t stay where she belongs, but moves from place to place and time to time.
She is the Saint of both death and birth. For the threshold of life and death, a story:
A pagan king from the neighborhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived, the king was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked, his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death. Since then, the cross of rushes has existed in Ireland.
Thresholds. Doorways. Literal doorways were once the place that literal births happened. Saint Brigit is often considered the midwifing Saint. She’s at those places of birth. Places that are not easy, that are messy, scary, and exciting. Kind of a place we feel right now: it’s scary, messy, exciting, and we’re afraid to be hopeful.
Here’s an interesting example that she doesn’t stay where she belongs in time and place. She is an Irish Saint, said to have been born in 451 in Ireland. She is also said the be the midwife of Mary in the stable at the birth of Jesus.
See? She doesn’t stay put in time or in place. Thresholds are the places that hold the possibilities of things that are…impossible. Things can, and will, change. We can step forward and seek…Good. Or we can step forward and seek…the mundane. We can get stuck in what’s wrong or seek heaven and Goodness on earth. Trust and have Faith. We can help and heal one another or get stuck and fearful. She reminds us of why community (church) places are so important. We can help and heal one another.
She asks us to be okay that there are things and stories and mysteries that we don’t, can’t, understand. We can listen and choose to learn, especially from those things that make us uncomfortable. She reminds us to connect to Faith instead of facts. The deeper truths beyond logic.
We’re not even sure that Brigit is a real person. Despite a birth time of 451 and a death date of 525. February 1, 525 to be exact. We’re not sure if she’s a Christianized goddess or a Saint that took on the attributes of a well known local goddess. She’s said to be the daughter of a Christian mother and pagan father. Thresholds again, a point between two things, sometimes seemingly opposing things.
It’s said that she performed miracles of healing and would give everything away to the poor. Her father’s possessions and her mother’s butter. Yet, somehow, there was always Enough. Perhaps she is also the Saint of Enough. There is enough to share and enough to go around. We have enough. We are enough. Perhaps she is the patron Saint of don’t quantify our worth by monetary values, but by what we give from our hearts and of our hands.
She founded the Kildare Monastery where the eternal flame was kept burning by her nuns until the 16th century. That’s pretty amazing in and of itself. There are legends that her flame was impossible to put out. The fires of hope and transitions. Perhaps she reminds us to tend the flame in our own hearts so that it will never go out.
She is the Saint of wisdom. She is the saint of poetry and learning and arts, weaving and blacksmithing. These turning inward attributes of self growth and being. All these wonderful crafts of winter. She is the Saint of midwifing and healing and protection and new birth. These outward focused attributes of helping and doing. All these wonderful crafts of spring. And she sits on the threshold of both. Winter and Spring. The dying and letting go and the new births, beginnings, and possibility.
As we sit on the threshold, perhaps we can look out our windows and at the world with Awe for everything. The snow and stars and the sun and birds. May we stay with it, not walk away to find that show to watch or post it on social media. Stay on the threshold and trust in what’s to come. Instead of hiding or losing hope, preparing for something new to come. To make ourselves more resilient so that we can be of better service in the world on the threshold for renewal and rebirth to come. A letting go and death to what’s past to have enough faith to embrace new beginnings. Whatever that is. With Hope. Remembering that there is always change and nothing is ever the same and that’s ok. There is a Mystery bigger than us. And that’s ok. It’s ok to be hopeful and joyful and trusting as we stand in the doorway and look out. As we look forward.
Can we look out with awe and gratitude? Can we look out and take the first step toward a new Goodness? Can we build ourselves up and be a part of the hopeful new beginning.
Have faith that though we don’t understand the mystery. Have faith guided by a Saint that doesn’t stay put in time and place. That it’s all okay and what’s to come is Good. What’s to come is blessed. May we bring forth from the threshold into our lives, more trust and more Joy.
In old times, February 2nd was a time when we would light our own lights. Literally. Lighting pure candles to purify home and heart. Preparing for the coming of fire, light, and hope. Having faith that all shall be well. Even if we don’t understand it, even if we don’t like it, we can trust it. We can have faith and be Lights of Hope and Happiness!!!
Maybe, while trusting our upcoming weather predictions to a groundhog this week, we can light a candle for Hope and all the possibilities of the Threshold…