I visited the West of Ireland—that craggy, heartbreakingly beautiful back-of-beyond the ancient Celts called a “thin place,” where the veil between heaven and earth seems to disappear. It’s a place where unexpected traces of history going back to the beginning of time are all around you, if you know where to look.
On a gray, misty morning, with a few fellow pilgrims, I walked in the Burren, in the path of a sixth-century saint. We made our way across a vast expanse of rock and through bramble and mud, to a holy place that seemed to transform all of us in subtle, simple ways. What is it about sacred springs like this one, hiding in out-of-the-way spots all around the West? I was captivated by these mystical waters and the stories they told, and the stories they just hinted at.
Soon after, we visited a garden devoted to Brigid, pagan goddess and Christian saint, a sixth-century abbess and bishop whose pre-Christian story still lingers, in mythology and folk practices—and at hundreds of holy wells. Brigid tugged at my imagination, drawing me to learn more about her and the sacred springs that inform faith and spirituality in unexpected ways. My next trip took me to some of those wells, in the counties of Kildare and Clare and Sligo.
I was smitten. As I finished up a seminary degree in theology, I chose Brigid as the topic of my thesis, and from that came the beginnings of my work-in-progress, a book called Brigid’s Cloak: Women and the Early Irish Church. What was it about Brigid, I wondered, that helped to power the story of Christianity back then? What is it about Brigid, now, that can empower women in the church today?
I have a family and a life and a job—I’m a health and spirituality writer with credits in publications ranging from the New York Times to Commonweal, from Scholastic to Guideposts. But here’s what I’m really excited about: my book on Brigid of Ireland. I’ve got another trip on the horizon, with plans to visit her holy wells in Kerry, Tyrone, Donegal, and Louth. Work on my book is progressing.
I’d love to share it all with you. I hope you’ll like my page, read my blog, and follow along on the journey with me. As they say in the Irish language, Go raibh maith agat—may there be goodness in you. Which is just their way of saying thanks.
Thanks for coming along.
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