I LOVE this time of year; a time to embrace brighter evenings and early mornings. Already there are signs of the new spring as snowdrops emerge from the winter soil.
I’m absolutely delighted that on Monday 6 February, Ireland will celebrate a national holiday, attributed to an iconic and important person – St Brigid of Kildare. February is a most hopeful month. This week, we celebrate St Brigid’s Day, a day which brings great hope. St Brigid brings with her a story of compassion, generosity, healing and renewal. The early days of February mark the beginning of spring. Yes, it may still feel cold, but already, brighter evenings, emerging green shoots and snowdrops announce a time for new beginnings.
I’m glad the darkness of winter is once again being transformed by the light of our new spring. Spring is a season of hope and renewal. In the true sense of Scripture, we are called out of darkness and into God’s wonderful light.
Over the past few weeks I have celebrated a number of funerals. What struck me most about these celebrations was the power of the positive, unique and talented spirit that is contained within us all. Lives that greatly enhanced not just their immediate families but also the wider community. People who were sincere, genuine and energetic in sharing life freely with others. I was greatly inspired also by the wonderful sense of community expressed by the kindness and compassion of good neighbours and friends. We must never take for granted the wonderful gift that is community. We are very fortunate to live with people who care for one another, who support, encourage and facilitate many good things to happen every day.
The truth of the matter is that all of us carry a sense of winter and spring. Winter is often felt in the pain, anxiety and burden that is part of our human story. So, too, it is experienced in our falls and struggles, our losses and human frailty. However, this fragile truth does not truly define who we are.
All of us have a beautiful spring, constantly being renewed in all our hearts. The spring tells the story of our resilience, courage, determination and imagination. The spring in our story is about being able to begin again. Springtime embraces the possible.
This is a time when many people question where we go from here as a nation. I suggest that part of this discernment is about tapping into the spring of giftedness, talent and abundance, found within the depths of all our being. Surely the wonderful neighbours and good people – the living fabric of every community – remind us that people are more important than policy, and community is far more powerful that an economy.
The spring marks a significant change in the year. I am grateful for the powerful gift of hope, given to me recently by many good people who have gone from this life marked with the sign of faith.
I am deeply confident that as we emerge from this pandemic, gifts of integrity, renewal and opportunity will be its fruit. Spring is in the air, may we take time to breathe in its hope and light.
The following is an extract from a poem entitled St Brigid’s well
***We set out this night toward the well of St Brigid
sailing from the island of Innis Oirr.
Then by foot on through Doolin to follow that trail
That skirts the sheer drop off the Cliffs of Moher.
Then we scrabble the Burren over rock walls and pastures
To a foothill of magic in the county of Clare…
Where a spring of cold water runs through a cold cave
And the water is wishes from the wells of our hearts
That the ones that we love might be plucked from their sickness
Or freed from despair so the healing might start.***