Feast of St. Kevin, Patron Saint of Yielding ~ A love note from your online abbess

St. Kevin and the Blackbird
(after Seamus Heaney)

Imagine being like Kevin,
your grasping fist softens,
fingers uncurl and
palms open, rest upward,
and the blackbird
weaves twigs and straw and bits of string
in the begging bowl of your hand,
you feel the delicate weight of
speckled blue orbs descend,
and her feathered warmth
settling in for a while.

How many days can you stay,
open,
waiting
for the shell
to fissure and crack,
awaiting the slow emergence
of tiny gaping mouths
and slick wings
that need time to strengthen?

Are you willing to wait and watch?
To not withdraw your
affections too soon?
Can you fall in love with the
exquisite ache in your arms
knowing the hatching it holds?

Can you stay not knowing
how broad those wings will
become, or how they will fly
awkwardly at first,
then soar above you

until you have become the sky
and all that remains is
your tiny shadow
swooping across the earth.

—Christine Valters Paintner

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

June 3rd is the feast day of St. Kevin. The story of Kevin and the Blackbird is perhaps one of my favorites of all the Celtic saints.  He would pray every day in a small hut with arms outstretched. The hut was so small though that one arm reached out the window. One day, a blackbird landed in his palm, and slowly built a nest there. Kevin realized what was happening and knew that he could not pull his hand back with this new life being hatched there. So he spent however many days or weeks it took for the eggs to be laid, and the tiny birds to hatch, and for them to ready themselves to fly away.

I love this story because it is such an image of yielding, of surrendering to something that was not in the “plans,” but instead, receiving it as gift. Instead of sitting there in agony trying to figure out how to move the bird, he enters into this moment with great love and hospitality.

How many times in our lives do we reach out our hands for a particular purpose, and something else arrives? Something that may cause discomfort, something we may want to pull away from, but in our wiser moments we know that this is a holy gift we are invited to receive.

Join us in Ireland on pilgrimage where St. Kevin is one of our wisdom guides for the journey!

With great and growing love,

Christine

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Dancing monk icon © Marcy Hall (prints available in her Etsy shop)

 

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