Blessings, today we begin a four-part email retreat on Celtic Spirituality, centred around the Irish mystic and saint, Brigid of Kildare. For the month of 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 shawl, scarf, or blanket. I invite you to gather one and wrap it around you or lay it over your lap before you continue reading.
Legend has it that Brigid wanted to build a convent. She found the perfect place, but the land belonged to the King of Leinster and he refused her request. She and the sisters prayed his heart would soften. Later, she met him on the road and asked for as much land as her small mantle (cloak) covered. Bemused, he granted her request. She threw down her mantle and it grew and spread across many acres. He recognized her as a “holy woman” and granted her the land and she built her convent in Kildare. There is an ancient tradition, marked by some today, to leave a piece of cloth (the size of a handkerchief) outside the home on the night on January 31st, the eve of St Brigid’s birthday. It was thought Brigid’s spirit travelled the land and blessed the cloth. The next day, the cloth would be brought indoors and kept safe. Throughout the year the cloth would be used for healing humans and animals and to offer protection from evil.
These stories of Brigid’s life occupy a space between myth and history, as do many of the stories of the lives of the saints. Rather than literal truth, they offer us metaphors that can be helpful in guiding our spiritual journey. What can we make of Brigid’s mantle? From our baby “blankies” to our favourite cozy sweaters we know the power of fabrics to soothe and comfort. At Grace we have a prayer shawl ministry that provides a shawl or blanket to those who are in need of comfort – letting them know that they are not alone, and are wrapped in prayer.
Take time to read, and reread this scripture from Philippians 4:6-7, taken from The Message:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Spiritual Practice - prayer
I invite you to wrap yourself in a blanket, a shawl, even a cosy sweater. Feel it’s warmth around you, and imagine that this is Christ wrapping you in his arms.
Take a moment of silence to ground yourself. Take a few deep breaths as you become aware of God’s wholeness around you.
Name aloud your worries and concerns, maybe for yourself, your family, your community, or the world. Don’t worry about making them into fancy prayers – just name them – remember, ‘God knows your concerns’
As you name them, let them go to God – maybe taking a deep breath and breathing out the worry as you hand it over.
Before you end, take a moment of gratitude – thanking God for ‘settling you down.’
Each Wednesday we send out an inspirational message.