Friday, June 18, 2010

Mary of the Irish, pray for us

Pilgrim, in your journey you may travel far,
For pilgrim, its a long way to find out who you are.
- Enya, "Pilgrim" on her album, A Day Without Rain

In her book, Rekindling the Flame, Rita Minehaw says that "At the heart of all pilgrims lies the hope and dream that, by traveling to a special place associated with the divine, they might somehow be changed and renewed." She says that to be a pilgrim is to invite change, conversion, new perspectives and a deeper life. And then the key - she concludes that the journey to a sacred place is just as important as the arrival.

Today the journey included visits to sites related to St. Brigid of Kildare. We visited St. Brigid's Cathedral where it is said she established her abbey and church in 480 A.D. She was the leader for a double monastery for men and women and it was the center for education, culture, worhsip and and hospitality in Ireland.

Brigid's fire, a perpetual flame, burned in Kildare for more than a thousand years and was relit by Sister Mary, whom we visited, in 1993. We also visited Brigid's well where a sign hangs, "St. Brigid, Mary of the Irish, pray for us."

Somehow St. Brigid has sparked a flame throughout the generations - her faith, healing powers, love for the natural order and her hospitality, generosity and concern for the poor stand as a testament for Christians in all ages.

I'm honored to be a part of the merry band of pilgrims pictured above. Today, I am thankful for St. Brigid and for her dedication to the God of the poor who welcomes all people into fellowship.

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