Last year I wrote a post about the cross quarter Celtic holiday called Samhain which falls approximately halfway between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. At the time I wrote the post I was doing some research for a speech I was about to give, and what I learned was that so many of the things that are a part of the Samhain celebration were already a part of me. It was as if I had a sense of knowing that ran deeply through every fiber of my being.
Today is the next in succession cross quarter holiday in the Celtic calendar. Today is the feast of St. Brigid which is also know as Imbolc. It would be impossible for me to relay to you what an important part of our lives St. Brigid has become in the last year and a half. Frankly it is a job better suited for my brilliant life partner Christiana and I suspect someday soon the will tell that story. It is more her story that mine and she can do it far better justice.
For my part what I’d like to do is tell you how I first heard of St. Brigid long before any of the shifts in our lives started to happen a year and a half ago.
Christiana and I were married in August of 2013. She wanted a rustic country wedding in beautiful wedding barn. Clearly Divine powers had a different plan. In the summer of 2012, more than a year before our wedding we had already selected and paid for a wedding site in the country with a stunning wedding barn. In October of 2012 though, a new site vaulted itself into our world in the form of a friend’s Irish Estate. We were leery about changing venue once the wheels had been laid in motion, but a voice kept speaking to both of us that the Irish Estate was the intended site. Part of the reason was because of my late father’s proud Irish heritage. Another part was because we went to visit the site on the 15th anniversary of my father’s death on a rainy, dreary fall day where his spirit seemed to try to catch our attention with every blowing leaf and creaking door.
After a bit of consternation over lunch at L Woods we decided to tear up the plans for our wedding and start over, at the Irish estate. Christiana’s vision needed to immediately start to re-invent itself. And re-invent itself it did.
Colors were changed. Centerpiece ideas shifted. Rustic farm accessories were replaced by vintage books. These responsibilities fell entirely on Christiana, but to her credit she let go of one vision and created a new and even more spectacular vision in the process.
In the spring of 2013 we started to craft our wedding ceremony. This was a three person project shared by the two of us and our dear friend Richard. Those of you who have followed along with our lives and our writings know what a significant role Richard has played in our journey. Even since his death in April of 2014 he has continued to guide us. If you are less familiar with his story stay tuned. The book will be out soon enough.
Since we were now focusing on a Celtic themed wedding we wanted aspects of Celtic culture to paint the canvass. Since we are believers in all faiths, we also wanted to weave in a few other flavors in the form of reading from the Velveteen Rabbit and an Apache blessing. Richard was all too ready to find the way to make everything fit together.
One day at lunch Richard asked if he might offer a suggestion. He then produced from his bag a woven straw cross and showed it to us. He told us that it was a St. Brigid’s Cross and that it had been given to him as a gift by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, former Archbishop of the Chicago Dioceses of the Catholic church. We were of course deeply touched and agreed, saying, “We’d be honored if you used your cross as a part of the blessing in our wedding ceremony Richard.” He then replied, “It’s not my cross any longer. It’s your cross. He wants me to give it to you…”
In the moment we were blown away by the act of selflessness. Clearly a gift from such a spiritual man as Cardinal Bernadin must have had great sentimental value to Richard. To let go of the cross was an act of non-attachment that set a remarkable example. As time has moved forward we are stunned that Richard had such a deep sense of knowing that he felt called to put St. Brigid on our radar so clearly that we would be ready for her arrival in our lives more completely in the year ahead.
We went on to have the perfect wedding ceremony that was divinely guided by all the Angels in our lives who are too numerous to mention, but all know who they are. I suspect even St. Brigid herself took a peek in on that day, long before she would reveal herself to us in more obvious form a year later.
So on this day of Imbolc, we celebrate the halfway point between the longest night of the year and the arrival of spring. In the old days the festival marked the point where we would find hope that the cupboard of supplies that were running down from the previous year’s harvest would hold out until the new bounty of Spring. Much like life, there is always a reason to celebrate hope for the coming bounty. In honor of St. Brigid we have faith that the new season of our lives will bring abundance beyond our wildest dreams…
P.S. If you would like a peek at our wedding ceremony there is a short 15 minute feature film at this link.