Lent and St. Patrick’s Day are really contradicting each other this year. To be honest, I just want to make some soda bread, have a beer, maybe some Bailey’s, and watch Waking Ned Devine. Fortunately, I can still watch Waking Ned Devine.
See here for the appropriate soundtrack to this post. (Yes, it’s the Waking Ned Devine version of “The Parting Glass,” you know how we roll here.)
I was feeling petty and silly about being huffy about not thinking about my traditional enjoyment of St. Patrick’s Day when planning my Lent (minus the green freckles of my childhood, I could still do that, I guess). To say the least, not very cheery about the feast day in any way, but then I remembered that St. Brigid was well known for charity and hospitality. The kind of charity and hospitality that apocryphally involved turning a bathwater to beer and multiplying butter, milk, and bacon for people like unexpected visitors and lepers. I can probably buck up and be friendly in the month of March without a Harp to drink.
But let’s be honest, I’m going to have to take this into consideration in future years.
St. Brigid doesn’t occupy much of the popular imagination like St. Patrick or familiar parlance like your common parish names: St. Michael, St. Matthew, St. Elizabeth, St. Anne. Nobody celebrates St. Brigid’s Day on February 1, and I’ve only ever seen one St. Brigid’s parish. I am happy enough for a reference when characters in Outlander say “Mary, Michael and Bride!” (And each time, a tiny pang that it never stuck when my mom tried to make Bridie my nickname. You’re right, Mom, it’s a great nickname.)
But I feel like she should. She seems fun. Though she’d already been dead for something like 400 years, there’s a 10th century poem attributed to her that I feel like gets right down into it:
I’d like to give a lake of beer to God.
I’d love the heavenly
Host to be tippling there
For all eternity.
I’d love the men of Heaven to live with me,
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I’d put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.
White cups of love I’d give them
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer
To every man.
I’d make Heaven a cheerful spot
Because the happy heart is true.
I’d make the men contented for their own sake.
I’d like Jesus to love me too.
I’d like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around.
I’d give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.
I’d sit with the men, the women and God
There by the lake of beer.
We’d be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.
Wouldn’t you like to hang out with her, too?