Blessings, today we continue our three-part email retreat on Celtic Spirituality, centred around the Irish mystic and saint, Brigid of Kildare. For the first three Wednesdays in February, I will send out a mid week message that has a reflection, a symbol, a reading, and a spiritual practice. The resources are adapted from The Prayer Bench retreat called, ‘Living the In-Between Way.’
Today, the symbol is a cross. If you have a cross in your house, I invite you to gather it as a focus for our reflection.
Legend has it that Brigid was called to accompany a pagan chieftain into death. While she sat beside him, she took rushes (straw) from the floor and wove it into a cross. He asked what she was doing, and she told him the story of Jesus. Before he died the chieftain had become a Christian. The story lives on. It is traditional to make a St. Brigid’s cross out of straw or grass on the eve of her birthday and hang it in the house.
The cross is a powerful symbol of “the in-between way.” The pandemic has raised our awareness of living in the “before times” and a time still to emerge “after the pandemic.” We are in what is called “the place between.” This can be a potent place of possibility between who we were and who we are becoming. This space beckons a commitment to personal work and the work of community.
Brigid is a perfect guide for this journey of transformation:
· Legend has it she was born in the doorway of a barn, between inside and outside.
· She was born at dawn, the space between night and day.
· Her birthday is February 1, between winter and spring.
· Her name itself is part of the old Irish religion and the new Christian culture.
· The stories of her occupy space between myth and history.
The “in-between way” is often an uncomfortable space between who we were and who we are becoming. We resist its invitations, especially as time goes on. Transformation always takes longer than we expect, and sometimes the energy of holding possibility dips under our awareness and it feels like nothing is happening. Sometimes we lose sight (vision) of any hope or goodness that can come from this ripe time. We despair at the lack of care for the common good. We centre ourselves and our opinions and fail to listen. We see division and troubles where once we tasted kindness and community. The in-between way surfaces our best dreams for change– and our worst leanings.
This is the transformational journey. It is the journey of the cross, the journey of Love’s deepest possibility. This is our moment. We are in this doorway between death and life. We live the in-between way by deepening conscious awareness and trusting the vision of wholeness. We gather up whatever straws of compassion and courage we can and weave them into a new way of seeing. The spirit of Brigid is with us.
Take a moment to read, and re-read the verse from Romans.
Ask yourself, what is God calling to be transformed in your mind?
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Spiritual Practice - Crossing Thresholds: A Prompt for Reflection or Journaling
Take a moment to reflect or journal about a moment of transformation.
It might be a moment in your own life such as leaving home, marriage, childbirth, the loss of a partner.
Or it might be a moment of change for your community of faith such as online worship, new music, the retirement of a much-loved minister.
It is a moment when you stand between the threshold, and perhaps unsure which way to go.
The Irish poet John O'Donohue reminds us that we cross thresholds several times a day. Literally, we pass from one room to another, but there are also thresholds to be found in the pauses between doing one thing and then the next. We also work our way through internal thresholds in our journey of becoming. About inner thresholds he invites:
"At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing?
At this time in my life, what am I leaving?
Where am I about to enter?
What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold?
What gift would enable me to do it?”
(From his book, To Bless the Space Between Us.
Each Wednesday we send out an inspirational message.