Today is the first day of Spring and the feast of St. Brigid – a woman known for her kindness, her care of the sick and for what I view as her dogged self-belief. If the story of Brigid’s cloak is to be believed, wherein she legitimately acquired a large tract of land – large enough to house the convent she dreamed of building – through convincing a wealthy King to gift her as much land as her cloak would cover, then Brigid’s self-belief and determination knew no bounds. Such was her faith in what she was doing and how she must go about it, that she didn’t waver when both her father and this King laughed at the audacious nature of her request. She was not only courageous enough to have a dream of great magnitude, but she held such integrity of spirit that she used her confidence in the good of what she wanted to achieve, to achieve it.
For most of the Western World, the first day of January is celebrated as New Year’s Day. This is traditionally the day on which we welcome new beginnings and make resolutions as to what we would like to achieve in the year ahead. While this is an encouraging thought and possibly much-needed after the festivities of Christmas have tapered off and we face into another month of Winter, it can also be difficult to muster all the necessary energy to initiate those resolutions at that time of year. This New Year’s, in particular, was more challenging than most, for most people. Given the context of a pandemic which, in Ireland at least, was resurging, it may have been hard for many of us to have the clarity of mind, or spirit, to make New Year’s Resolutions this January.
If, like me, you found yourself needing to devote that extra bit of attention to your own self-care these past few weeks, rather than reaching for additional goals to achieve; if, like most people, you have been working at simply keeping your head above water and dealing with each day as it comes throughout this past month of lockdown, then I invite you to join me in making this day – the first day of Spring – the beginning of your new year!
Tradition has us creating St. Brigid’s crosses from the common green rushes found all over the Irish landscape. I am aware of a most beautiful ceremony involving the making of the cross, in which each rush represents an aspect of your life you would like to honour. With this in mind, I will be making a St. Brigid’s Day cross today which not only marks the beginning of Spring, the Celtic Festival of Imbolc and celebrates the many wonderful qualities of an independent, strong-spirited yet gentle Irish woman, but which also gives me the opportunity to symbolically invite into my life every blessing I would like for this year ahead. As I add each rush to the cross, I will welcome into my life health, self-belief, kindness, connection, friendship, determination, love, self-love, joy, peace, compassion and courage. These “resolutions” need not be a form of pressured expectation, the failure of which can leave us doubting ourselves, but rather an open invitation to ourselves to work at noticing all of the good things we already have in our lives, even if some of them are yet to bloom. Welcome to the Spring!