Mame LOVED Saint Brigid. Mame (pronouned Mom-ea) was my grandmother, but you can call her Patricia if you’d like. Mame’s love of Saint Brigid began in middle age, when her husband died. Saint Brigid strengthened my grandmother: the stories of a bold Irish woman standing up to kings and advocating for women (and I imagine the legend of her turning water into beer certainly helped elevate her sainthood as well).
In 2004, I traveled to Ireland with my mom and grandmother. On our trip, Mame wanted to see all things Saint Brigid related: her tomb, where she ministered, any Irish spot advertising Saint Brigid was fair game.
What I remember most about this trip to Ireland was Mame’s search for the perfect Brigid cross. However, she absolutely could not decide which cross was the “perfect” one to take home.
Was it the woven straw cross that the locals made?
Or the beautiful wall cross?
Something kitschy or something beautiful?
We’d suggest something, she’d consider it, and then set it back down. Our tour of Ireland continued, and every gift shop was a new opportunity for her to continue her quest. The searching was a genuinely fun adventure.
Then we found it. In the Cliffs of Moher gift shop. Mame’s voice permeated the entire gift shop, and it was a cackle of joy: the “perfect” cross. A tiny gold Saint Brigid’s cross necklace. We’d probably passed 10 similar ones in the past few days, but this was the one and it was just the right size. Here is Mame on the left wearing her cross.
Why do I tell you this story today? Two reasons:
- Searching can be a genuinely fun part of our spiritual journey, especially searching for a particular practice that will deepen our relationship with God. Journeying with a friend or family member, picking a prayer practice up, trying them on, and then setting them down if they are not a good fit for us. If we set some sort of new year’s resolution around our spiritual life and it’s not working out, that’s okay. The searching is part of the journey. As we move into February, what practice can we set aside, and what new practice can we pick up? The searching is part of the fun adventure with God.
- Saints can connect us to people we love. This may seem obvious, but hear me out. Six years after Mame’s death, Saint Brigid still connects me to her. I see a Saint Brigid cross, I think of Mame. I hear a cackle across a store, I think of the moment she found the ‘perfect’ cross. I see a strong woman standing up in the midst of a difficult situation, and I think of Mame, channeling Saint Brigid.
What Saints connect you to family or friends, either still living, or those who have died?