Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and open the door, I will come into him and sup with him and he with me. Revelation 3:20
This September, Jennie Weeks, Liz Curtis Higgs and I are leading a pilgrimage to Ireland. A pilgrimage is different from a trip. Without going into great detail, consider a trip has a destination. A pilgrimage is about the journey.
Celtic Spirituality provides us with the theme for such a pilgrimage and with roots in Ireland this pilgrimage will naturally explore many of the practices found and revealed through the lives of Irish saints. One saint who has caught my attention is St. Brigid of Kildare.
Often considered the female patron saint of Ireland, I find of interest her birth. Brigid’s mother was Christian. Her father was a pagan chieftain. The two practices of faith were quite different and life within such a household often requires straddling the two beliefs. According to legend, Brigid’s mother was milking the cows when realizing she was about to give birth. As she made her way back home, she carried two large pails of milk. She entered the doorway of her home. And on the threshold Brigid was born.
As a result of this birth, St. Brigid was called upon and prayed to by those who struggle on the threshold of life. The threshold represents the “in-between” passages in life. A threshold represents the test of character and the transition or change in time from winter to spring, life to death, outside to inside, and the daily occasions when we transition from talking to listening, from being unaware to now being fully aware
Often pictured, like the icon above, St. Bridget holds fire. Fire takes us from cold to warm. Fire is a reminder, a symbol, a reality that points us in the direction of change or transformation. We are vulnerable at these times. Thresholds open us to the uncertainties in life. Who is in the next room? Just because the door is open the choice to enter—or not—is ours. On the threshold, questions surface from a deep level as we look to the past yet anticipate the future.
We call on St. Brigid as we seek help and support when facing life’s uncertainties. You see, St. Brigid plays an integral part, a role in helping us discern the calling or vocation that God ultimately has in mind for us. The Revelation of John is not far removed from the threshold of Brigid as John cast a vision of Jesus knocking on the door and requesting entrance. Obviously, it is not about a place but it is more about a space and the knock on our soul encourages us to invite Jesus into our lives.
The threshold and the holiday that celebrated the life and witness of Brigid comes on the pagan days of Imbolc or February 1-2 which again holds winter and spring together. It is halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. As we cross the various thresholds in life, the beauty of Brigid reminds not only of her presence but her blessing as we navigate the next step and wonder what’s next?