St. Brigid and the Fruit Tree
There was the moment
you could bear it no more.
Your eyes brimming with
great glistening drops
summoned by the hunger of
the world, the callous and
terrible things men and
women do to one another.
Your tears splashed onto
cold stony earth, ringing out
like bells calling monks to prayer,
like the river breaking open to
the wide expanse of sea.
From that salt-soaked ground
a fruit tree sprouts and rises.
I imagine pendulous pears,
tears transmuted to sweetness.
There will always be more grief
than we can bear.
There will always be ripe fruitflesh
making your fingers sticky from the juice.
Life is tidal, rising and receding,
its long loneliness, its lush loveliness,
no need to wish for low tide when
the banks are breaking.
The woman in labor straddles the doorway
screaming out your name.
You stand there on the threshold, weeping,
and pear trees still burst into blossom,
their branches hang so heavy, low,
you don’t even have to reach.
–Christine Valters Paintner
Dearest monks and artists,
In Ireland, Brigid is one of the three patron Saints of the land alongside Patrick and Columba. We don’t know many details of her life, and there is great evidence that she is part of a much older lineage extending back to the Irish triple goddess Brigid of pre-Christian times who was the goddess of poets, smithwork, and healing.
Most of what we know about St. Brigid comes from the Life of Brigid written by the monk Cogitosis in the second half of the 7th century. The Life emphasizes her healing, her kinship with animals, her profound sense of hospitality and generosity, and concern for those oppressed. These stories of the Saints are not meant to be literal or historical, but spiritual, mythical, archetypal, and psychological, resonating with the deepest parts of our souls.
In our free live video seminar Monday, October 31 I explore Brigid as the archetype of the Healer. The Healer is the one who helps us to overcome inner divisions of body, mind, soul, heart, and spirit. Healing is very different than curing. We might have an illness which does not alleviate, but the Healer within allows us to find some wisdom and grace in the experience, allows us to have some peace and ease in the midst of unknowing and pain.
Similarly, with emotional wounds, the Healer is the one who helps us to welcome in the stranger and find reconciliation and perhaps even gratitude for these parts of self that have for so long vexed us.
Healing is not so much about “doing” but about a way of “being” that lies beyond all the false divisions we make in our lives. Healing often inspires radical life changes, and brings about ways of being more in alignment with our True Self and nature.
How might your inner Healer invite you into a space of being where all your scattered parts can come together and rest in radical welcome?
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Dancing Monk Icon © Marcy Hall at Rabbit Room Arts
I would enjoy being more like St Brigid who, by the writing, was a woman who had great spiritual strength within; which also helped her to be able to help others.
Beautiful poem and intriguing details about life in Ireland during pre-christian days. I would very much like to learn more about St Brigid, St Patrick, and St Columba.
Thank you, Christine for the spiritual and mystical enlightenment for tge week!