Our day today was designed to give each of the participants in this pilgrimage an opportunity to engage with some aspect of our ministry or our tradition that was of interest to us. Some visited hospitals, aged care centres and housing developments/community care facilities.
I chose a trip to Kildare – with a view to visiting some Brigidine Sisters – Sisters who follow the tradition of the Irish wise and holy woman Brigid. I had not previously known any of their story, but thought this might be an interesting day – and so it was!
St Brigid, in folklore, precedes the Christian tradition in Ireland, belonging to times past, caring for the earth, the animals and the people. She is associated with the springs of water that come from the earth – sometimes healing springs around which the ancient people of this land gathered and worshipped the spirits that inhabited the land, the sky and the underworld. With the coming of the Christian tradition, she becomes associated with the Christian God, again as carer, nurturer and holy woman. It is a fascinating tradition and one which I intend to explore further. This notion of Christianity absorbing many of the ancient traditionns and stories is not something specific only to Ireland – it is a feature of Christianity elsewhere, and perhaps one of the reasons for its succcess is so many places.
On our return to Dublin a couple of us went shopping and wandered around Dublin in the rain. Today was the first day we had some serious rain! But the rain just adds a sense of brooding and moodiness to the landscape which is quite attractive!
This evening a few of us went to a local pub for dinner – it was Friday night in Dublin and everyone was out! It is certainly a vibrant place and despite the economic troubles Ireland has experienced, people seem quite cheerful. The service in establishments is excellent, and while the food has been ‘ordinary’, there is enough of it!
Tomorrow we are off to Glendalough which is another very interesting place which provides insights into the earliest days of Christianity in Ireland. It will be another day of walking in the cold and rain!