St Brigid, when winter turns into spring

Today in Ireland we celebrate St Brigid’s day, which is also known as the first day of spring. Brigid lived in the 5th century, and from early age was known to care for those in need. The accounts of her life are full of stories where she helps the poor as well as miraculous stories of healing. While some of those may be harder to identify with, they can be a source of inspiration as they highlight her care for people’s physical needs, such as food, as well as for their spiritual wellbeing. 

In Ireland, our winter this year has not been very harsh nor long, so if you are like me it may seem too soon to think of spring. I prefer to enjoy one season before moving onto the next. But there are also winters of another kind, not the winters of snow and frost and trees that are at rest, but winters of old memories, winters that for whatever reason have left our souls deprived of what is life-giving, winters in which we have to overcome one thing after another instead of enjoy living. Those kinds of winters, whether we had a touch of them or they were prolonged, would welcome spring. 

Because of St Brigid’s care for those in need, I recall the beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). This is you or me, everyone in fact, when we acknowledge that we need each other, or rather, that we need God. Interior winters have the ability to produce this beatitude within our hearts. This can be our source of compassion and our source of humility, where we learn to love our neighbour as ourselves, in the light of how God loves us. 

“Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.”
(Matthew 5:7-9)

St. Brigid was a woman of prayer. Her generosity was nourished through her relationship with God. We can take time to pray with the beatitudes in order to be able to live them more fully. We can take time to offer God our own winters, and winters of those known to us, so that God can heal them. Whether it is out of the concern for the lonely, the refugee, the homeless, our neighbour or even ourselves, our prayer and action are like water poured onto a thirsty plant. They are life-giving, which is a sign of spring. May a new season inhabit where your winter used to dwell, a season of spring which will bring healing to all the areas of your heart, mind and soul in order to make you whole. And may we bring this spring into the world blessing it with God’s goodness.

Happy feast of St Brigid and blessing for the season of Spring!

Iva Beranek
Dr Iva Beranek is the Ministry Facilitator for the CMH: Ireland