Saint Brigid, “the Mary of the Gael”

Today is the Feast Day of the Holy Venerable St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland so I thought I’d post some background information and some of her hagiography I have found along with a variety of icons I’ve collected in my photos.

I enjoyed reading the following quote that came in one of my email newsletters/blogs I subscribe to mentioning her feast day.

“Brigid’s feast day is February 1st which in the Celtic calendar is also the feast of Imbolc and the very beginning of springtime….She is the first sign of life after the long dark nights of winter. She breathes into the landscape so that it begins to awaken. Snowdrops, the first flowers of spring are one of her symbols.” ~ Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, Sacred Seasons: A Yearlong Journey through the Celtic Wheel of the Year – A Self-Study Online Retreat

Her Feast Day is most commonly celebrated around the world on February 1st. However in some Eastern Orthodox Churches which follow the Old Julian Calendar, her Feast Day is celebrated on February 14th.

The tradition of making Saint Brigid’s crosses from rushes and hanging them in the home is still followed in Ireland, where devotion to her is still strong. (More on St. Brigid’s Cross is below).

She is also venerated in northern Italy, France, and Wales.

St. Brigid is the Patron Saint of: Ireland, poets, brewers, blacksmiths, dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, fugitives, and newborn babies.

She was born in 451 a.d., and died in 525 a.d.

Saint Brigid’s likeness is often depicted holding a reed cross, a crozier, or a lamp.


The following hagiography is from the Orthodox Church of America’s website: Venerable Brigid (Bridget) of Ireland – Orthodox Church in America

Saint Brigid, “the Mary of the Gael,” was born around 450 in Faughart, about two miles from Dundalk in County Louth. According to Tradition, her father was a pagan named Dubthach, and her mother was Brocessa (Broiseach), one of his slaves.

Even as a child, she was known for her compassion for the poor. She would give away food, clothing, and even her father’s possessions to the poor. One day he took Brigid to the king’s court, leaving her outside to wait for him. He asked the king to buy his daughter from him, since her excessive generosity made her too expensive for him to keep. The king asked to see the girl, so Dubthach led him outside. They were just in time to see her give away her father’s sword to a beggar. This sword had been presented to Dubthach by the king, who said, “I cannot buy a girl who holds us so cheap.”

Saint Brigid received monastic tonsure at the hands of Saint Mael of Ardagh (February 6). Soon after this, she established a monastery on land given to her by the King of Leinster. The land was called Cill Dara (Kildare), or “the church of the oak.” This was the beginning of women’s cenobitic monasticism in Ireland.

The miracles performed by Saint Brigid are too numerous to relate here, but perhaps one story will suffice. One evening the holy abbess was sitting with the blind nun Dara. From sunset to sunrise they spoke of the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the love of Christ, losing all track of time. Saint Brigid was struck by the beauty of the earth and sky in the morning light. Realizing that Sister Dara was unable to appreciate this beauty, she became very sad. Then she prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over Dara’s eyes. All at once, the blind nun’s eyes were opened and she saw the sun in the east, and the trees and flowers sparkling with dew. She looked for a while, then turned to Saint Brigid and said, “Close my eyes again, dear Mother, for when the world is visible to the eyes, then God is seen less clearly by the soul.” Saint Brigid prayed again, and Dara became blind once more.

Saint Brigid fell asleep in the Lord in the year 523 after receiving Holy Communion from Saint Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (January 18). She was buried at Kildare, but her relics were transferred to Downpatrick during the Viking invasions. It is believed that she was buried in the same grave with Saint Patrick (March 17) and Saint Columba of Iona (June 9).

Late in the thirteenth century, her head was brought to Portugal by three Irish knights on their way to fight in the Holy Land. They left this holy relic in the parish church of Lumiar, about three miles from Lisbon. Portions of the relic were brought back to Ireland in 1929 and placed in a new church of Saint Brigid in Dublin.

The relics of Saint Brigid in Ireland were destroyed in the sixteenth century by Lord Grey during the reign of Henry VIII.


The following is from the Catholic Online website: St. Brigid of Ireland – Saints & Angels – Catholic Online

Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares a name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.

There is much debate over her birthparents, but it is widely believed her mother was Brocca, a Christian baptized by Saint Patrick, and her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. Brocca was a slave, therefore Brigid was born into slavery.

When Dubthach’s wife discovered Brocca was pregnant, she was sold to a Druid landowner. It is not clear if Brocca was unable to produce milk or was not present to care for Brigid, but legend states Brigid vomited any food the druid attempted to feed her, as he was impure, so a white cow with red ears sustained her instead.

Many stories of Brigid’s purity followed her childhood. She was unable to keep from feeding the poor and healing them.

One story says Brigid once gave her mother’s entire store of butter, that was later replenished after Brigid prayed.

When she was about ten-years-old, Brigid was returned to her father’s home, as he was her legal master. Her charity did not end when she left her mother, and she donated his possessions to anyone who asked.

Eventually, Dubthach became tired of her charitably nature and took her to the king of Leinster, with the intention of selling her. As he spoke to the king, Brigid gave his jeweled sword to a beggar so he could barter it for food for his family. When the king, who was a Christian, saw this, he recognized her heart and convinced Dubthach to grant her freedom by saying, “Her merit before God is greater than ours.”

After being freed, Brigid returned to the Druid and her mother, who was in charge of the Druid’s dairy. Brigid took over and often gave away milk, but the dairy prospered despite the charitable practice, and the Druid eventually freed Brocca.

Brigid then returned to Dubthach, who had arranged for her to marry a bard. She refused and made a vow to always be chaste.

Legend has it Brigid prayed that her beauty be taken so no one would want to marry her, and the prayer was granted. It was not until after she made her final vows that her beauty was restored.

Another tale says that when Saint Patrick heard her final vows, he accidentally used the form for ordaining priests. When the error was brought to his attention, he simply replied, “So be it, my son, she is destined for great things.”

Little is known about Saint Brigid’s life after she entered the Church, but in 480 she founded a monastery in Kildare, called the Church of the Oak. It was built above a pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, which was beneath a large oak tree.

Brigid and seven friends organized communal consecrated religious life for women in Ireland and she founded two monastic institutions, one for men and one for women. Brigid invited a hermit called Conleth to help her in Kildare as a spiritual pastor.

Her biographer reported that Brigid chose Saint Conleth “to govern the church along with herself.”

She later founded a school of art that included metalwork and illumination, which Conleth led as well. It was at this school that the Book of Kildare, which the Gerald of Wales praised as “the work of angelic, and not human skill,” was beautifully illuminated, but was lost three centuries ago.

There is evidence that Brigid was a good friend of Saint Patrick’s and that the Trias Thaumaturga claimed, “Between St. Patrick and Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many great works.”

Saint Brigid helped many people in her lifetime, but on February 1, 525, she passed away of natural causes. Her body was initially kept to the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, with a tomb “adorned with gems and precious stones and crowns of gold and silver,” but in 878, during the Scandinavian raids, her relics were moved to the tomb of Patrick and Columba.

In 1185, John de Courcy had her remains relocated in Down Cathedral. Today, Saint Brigid’s skull can be found in the Church of St. John the Baptist in Lumiar, Portugal. The tomb in which it is kept bears the inscription, “Here in these three tombs lie the three Irish knights who brought the head of St. Brigid, Virgin, a native of Ireland, whose relic is preserved in this chapel. In memory of which, the officials of the Altar of the same Saint caused this to be done in January AD 1283.”

A portion of the skull was relocated to St. Bridget’s Church and another was sent to the Bishop of Lisbon in St. Brigid’s church in Killester.


Troparions and Kontakions chanted in Eastern Orthodox Churches:

Troparion, Tone 1:

O holy Brigid, thou didst become sublime through thy humility, and didst fly on the wings of thy longing for God. When thou didst arrive in the Eternal City and appear before thy Divine Spouse, wearing the crown of virginity, thou didst keep thy promise to remember those who have recourse to thee. Thou dost shower grace upon the world, and dost multiply miracles. Intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Another Troparion, Tone 4:

Instructed by the words of Holy Pádraig, thou didst journey far to the west, proclaiming the Orient which has visited us from on high. Wherefore we bless thee, Venerable Mother Brigid, and we cry out to thee: Pray in behalf of our souls.

Kontakion, Tone 6:

Rejecting thy noble rank, and loving the godly monastic life, from the wood of the oak didst thou raise up a convent, the first in thy land and having there united a multitude of nuns to God, thou didst teach the surrounding lands to cry to the Lord: Have mercy on us!

Another Kontakion, Tone 4:

The holy virgin Brigid full of divine wisdom, went with joy along the way of evangelical childhood, and with the grace of God attained in this way the summit of virtue. Wherefore she now bestoweth blessings upon those who come to her with faith. O holy Virgin, intercede with Christ our God that He may have mercy on our souls.


From the Old Sarum Rite Missal (c) 1998 St. Hilarion Press, Austin, Texas

Collect for the Feast of St. Brigid of Ireland:

O Creator and Governor of the heavens and the earthly regions, Almighty God, in Thy fatherly love help Thy people praying to Thee: and grant that we who carry out the solemn feast of this day in honour of the holy Brigid may by her interceding prayers inherit the glory which hath no end. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God through all the ages of ages. Amen.


Courtesy of the website: Saint Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community Society of Calgary, Alberta Canada

Saint Brigid Hearth Keeper Prayer

Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,

Lady of the Lambs, protect us,

Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.

Beneath your mantle, gather us,

And restore us to memory.

Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.

Guide our hands in yours,

Remind us how to kindle the hearth.

To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.

Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,

To kindle the light, Both day and night.

The Mantle of Brigid about us,

The Memory of Brigid within us,

The Protection of Brigid keeping us

From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.

This day and night,

From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.


Other interesting websites about St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigid_of_Kildare?wprov=sfti1

St. Brigid of Ireland | Britannica.com


St. Bridget’s Cross

A Christian symbol, usually made from rushes or, less often, straw. It comprises a woven square in the centre and four radials tied at the ends. Bridget’s crosses are traditionally made on February 1st, which in the Irish language is called Lá Fhéile Bhríde (St Bridget’s feast day), the day of her liturgical celebration. Many rituals are associated with the making of the crosses. It was traditionally believed that a Bridget’s Cross protects the house from fire and evil. It is hung in many Irish and Irish-American kitchens for this purpose.

St. Bridget and her cross are linked together by a story about her weaving this form of cross at the death-bed of either her father or a pagan lord, who upon hearing what the cross meant, asked to be baptized. One version goes as follows:

A pagan chieftain from the neighbourhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Bridget to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived, the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Bridget sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Bridget stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked, his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death. Since then, the cross of rushes has existed in Ireland.


ANOTHER VOICE HEARD AT CHRISTMAS

C73B3BBC-3A16-42B0-A99B-6399F178FE3F(This is a revised version of an article first  published in a monthly newsletter of CareNet Pregnancy Center and Medical Clinic © December 1995)

In the Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, the first verse stars out with a positive note, but as the verses progress, the author grows discouraged with the condition of the world. However, the final words are ones of triumph and rejoicing. This Christmas carol reminds me of a book in the Old Testament of the Bible called Habakkuk, which starts with the current gloom and destruction surrounding the prophet but later ends with words of comfort and hope.

This article is one that goes along the same line of thought. Bear with me, for it too will end with: “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep… the wrong shall fail, the right prevail…”

The more I know about abortion, the more my heart grieves not only for unborn babies but the women and mothers burdened by situations with seemingly no way out. Bruised, wounded, broken women. Life snuffed out. Life killed — both women and babies!

I had trouble sometimes sleeping at night during the times I taught crisis intervention counselor training or when I discussed the various types of abortion procedures. I have vivid pictures in my mind of pieces of aborted babies from D & C’s and suction abortions. I have vivid pictures in my mind of burned babies from Saline abortions, I have a very vivid picture in my mind of the Partial Birth (D & X) abortions and scissors puncturing a baby’s head and brains being sucked out, and the skull collapsing. The unheard cries of terror, fear and pain of the unborn child. The unseen scars and wounds that women carry in the deepest recesses of their heart.

A woman, who was a former abortion clinic worker and had routinely examined the fetal tissue, one day while waiting for her pregnant daughter in our office who was receiving a free ultrasound, said to me, “I know for a fact that it is just tissue up to about 12 weeks.” She said, “there is nothing there but tissues, maybe a hand or foot but it’s just tissue. It’s not a baby yet, after 12 weeks it becomes a baby.”
“A hand… a foot… just tissue???” I thought, “how could she be so blind?” I thought about the conversation for the next several days. My thoughts kept going back to my brother, who died in a car accident.

I went to identify the body. Looking at the dead body, in a very real sense, it was no longer my brother. It was not the brother who I loved and adored. It was an empty shell, it was a dead body, it was just tissue.

I then understood. Looking at aborted babies is truly just tissue, by then death has occurred, the baby has gone on, thankfully, to be with the Lord. Of course it would look like just tissue after it was in pieces.

Death has a way of making us blind to reality. Corruption has a way of pulling a veil over our eyes. Evil has a way of making death seem so normal, so ordinary, “that’s life, that’s the way it goes.”

Satan and his pawns have been trying for centuries to pull the death veil over our eyes. Satan tried to kill the newborns and prevent Moses from being the deliverer of the people of Israel.

Satan tried to kill the infant Jesus, and hundreds of babies died as Herod went on his killing rampage.

Hitler killed thousands of Jews, elderly, handicapped and babies. Not to mention all the ethnic cleansing and other atrocities committed against another human being. Once upon a time, in the USA, people of color were not counted as a “whole” person.

Today, the killing continues. In many other countries in our current world, where humans can be “rated” as”less than” because of religion, class, caste, gender, race, or whatever the “powerful” declare as less than themselves or a threat to their ideas or status.

The death veil is now upon our elderly, our handicapped, the unwanted, the unlovable.

Society calls it just tissue.

The question comes back to me, “What is life?” Is it material things we can see or feel or touch? “What is life?” Jesus posed this question, “is not life more than the body, what we shall eat, drink or wear?”

What is so heinous about killing a person more than pulling a tooth, or removing our tonsils, isn’t it just tissue? We know that killing people already born is not just killing tissue. Words like “freedom of choice”, “right to privacy”, “my body, my rights”, are the death veil being pulled over our eyes, and we buy into the politically correct way of thinking that “this is life”.

NO!!! Life is not like that! Life is breathing, moving, loving, caring, touching, reaching. Life is reality. Life is living. Life is not just of flesh and blood.

Science tells us that when sperm meets egg, a human being has begun it’s journey of growing, changing and ultimately ends at death.

Science, however, cannot tell us when that mass of cells becomes a living soul, when it can think, when that mass of tissue has “life” with personality, character and compassion.

Our hearts would tell us when “life” begins if we would only listen. More than our hearts — the Bible tells us that God is the author of life and God has said that “life” begins at conception. Man becomes truly a living being at that miraculous moment… when sperm unites with egg…when the two become one… a new life is created in the image of our Creator.

3B33B61B-FFAB-4E3F-BFC9-3B9915D4475F.jpegChristmas is a time to remember the awesomeness of the miracle called conception.

The miracle of Christmas is the incarnation when God, Himself, became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word became flesh, in all ways, all of God, became fully human — the incarnate Christ, Jesus, fully God and fully man.

If he was not fully man at conception then, exactly who was John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb responding to when Mary entered their home. Was John, a 6 month old fetus, truly human or “just tissue”? Did John truly herald the arrival of his Lord and King? Elizabeth acknowledged the Lord’s presence, was she acknowledging only “tissue” or was this “tissue” the living Messiah?

The miracle of the incarnation is that Jesus was present in that room in the fullness of God and in the fullness of humanity. John a six-month old baby in the womb, not just tissue, was leaping for joy at the arrival of Jesus the Messiah.

Life was rejoicing over LIFE… NOT just tissue.

As you hear the bells this Christmas day, remember the incarnation and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we celebrate the coming of the Messiah, remember that His human life began before his birthday, it began in the womb at conception.

Remember that before the angels announced his birth, John the Baptist, still in his mother’s womb was announcing the arrival of Immanuel, God with us.

Then, may you also think about the millions of unborn babies yet to be born. The millions of women who need a support system of others reaching out in compassionate, active care. Millions of people in poverty, prejudice, and persecution needing to be recognized as human beings made in the image of God, worthy of “Life”.

Even as the shepherds were sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth and the wise men offered gifts, Satan tried to snuff out the life of the baby Jesus. Remember how Satan continues to try and snuff out lives today.

Our Lord is looking for this generation of shepherds to share the good news of Life, and God wants to use this generation of wise men to offer gifts and protection to those who have been given life.

Life is more than just tissue, more than just flesh and blood, more than the body. For this little baby, grew to be a man and poured out His blood and allowed His flesh to be crucified, killed and buried.

Then this man, Jesus, proved that He, alone, is the One who is worthy and has the power and the keys to life and death, because He conquered death and openly displayed that life is more than what we can see or touch.

Let us join with the angels, the shepherds, the wise men in sharing the good news that the Author of Life has come, Immanuel, God is with us, has dwelt among us, the Prince of peace, wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Almighty God is come to offer LIFE, LIFE ABUNDANT, LIFE ETERNAL.

Tell Me the Story…

Christmas… the celebration of the birth of the Christ child.

An enchanted season caught up in a winter magic moment that “heaven and nature sings” “peace on earth, good will towards men”, repeated with “sounding joy”.

There has been so much said about various facets on the birth of Jesus, what could I possibly add. I prayed, “God, give me fresh insight, something new to say, a revelation I haven’t seen before in the Christmas story.” It was almost like I heard the Lord reply, “repeat the sounding joy”.

“…I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body…” (II Peter 1:12-13)

I love the Christmas story, it fills my mind with wondrous questions; it fills my heart with an abiding peace; it overwhelms my soul with a revelation of His abundant love.

To think that God in all His omnipotence, His omnipresence, His omniscience, would be confined and contained in the form of a newborn baby.

To think that God would humble Himself, take on the form of a human being is too incredible for my mind or heart to comprehend.

To think that God, Ruler of the universe, King of kings and Lord of lords, Master and Creator of all things, would become a servant, to be served but to serve is almost incomprehensible for me to understand.

To be reminded of the obedience of Joseph and the yielded pureness of Mary in the face of accusations, assault of character, and the accepted cultural norms… all this encourages me to walk in integrity, faithfulness, and a willingness to be obedient.

To be reminded of the wisemen, the diligent, patient, pursuit of worshipping in spirit and truth… no matter how long the search, how far the miles; how instead of returning to one who is a destroyer and usurper, they chose a path of integrity and avoided betrayal… all of this inspires me to continuously pursue and seek the Lord, worship, give things that are precious, and to not give up.

To be reminded of the shepherds, being faithful to the menial task of minding sheep, and be blessed with a glorious and wondrous revelation of good news, to not be content with just seeing angels or messengers of heaven but then to actually follow through and seek out the meaning and source of the visitation, to not only bow, worship and be filled with wonder, but then to spread the Word… challenges me to not be content with revelation, or just sit forever in contemplation, but to go and share the Good News.

So, I will tell the story over and over and over again… the wonder of a virgin conceiving a child, the wonder of God becoming man, the wonder of the angels, the wonder of the star, the wonder of the wisemen and shepherds, the wonder of His salvation, the “wonders of His love”.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

“…and He shall be called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.. and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’.” (Matthew 1:21,23)

Perhaps in sharing the Christmas story, someone might really hear with their heart and come to know the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Perhaps someone will be set free from the bondages and wages of sin. Perhaps someone in the midst of struggles and hopelessness will come to know Immanuel, that God is with them. Perhaps those walking in darkness and shadows will have the Light of the world bring light to theirs.

Speaking of lights, Jesus told us to “let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5:16) This is our time of year to ring out the message of hope, peace, and love. This is our time to “repeat the sounding joy” and for all to “receive our King”. This is our time to “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere that Jesus Christ is born” so that others might become born again.

Join with me, as “I’ll tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”

(This is a revised version of an article originally previously published in the Christian Quarterly approximately the winter of 1997)

Seasons, Thanksgiving and it’s “traditions”

(Note: this was originally published on my other blog site… which I’m gradually moving all things over to this blog.)

I love the “holidays”. Especially when Thanksgiving comes. For me it signals the beginning of the circle of the seasons. Beginning with Giving Thanks, the height of the fall/autumn/harvest season, the beginning of Advent, the soon coming winter Solstice the “darkest, longest night” of the year, followed by the birth of the Bright and Morning Star, the Sun (Son) Eternal, followed by Epiphany, the Lenten Spring, culminating in the Feast of Feasts, Pascha, the Resurrection of the Son of Man and Son of God, with the blessings of Pentecost where out of many tribes, tongues and nations we have the opportunity to become united in one Body, healing the divides between human beings and God, and between one another.

Tied up in Thanksgiving, I’m once again bothered by the “political correctness” that grips our American culture to the point of guilt, strangulation and making us prisoner to hide our desire to celebrate. This year’s disturbance caused me to jump on my “soapbox” because of reading a Facebook post which referenced another blog by Kathy Escobar, which you can read hear, A More Honest Thanksgiving.

I must say I do agree with much of what Kathy says,

“I don’t feel guilty for celebrating.

Gratitude is usually always a good thing. It heals. It helps bring light into darkness. It binds us together. It’s a spiritual practice.

But I also think it’s important to be more honest about the roots of Thanksgiving.

I read the Doctrine of Discovery a few years ago and the words have been embedded in my mind every since. Papal decrees in the 1400’s, it laid some of the tracks for what we live with today—oppression, discrimination, separation, and prejudice. All in the name of Jesus. The destructive roots of Christian colonialism are deep and strong.”

As many of you know I’m not one to keep quiet… (okay, you can stop laughing now). I did make my comments on both Facebook and her blog.

However, I thought I would post my more lengthy thoughts here…

Yes, what was later known as the “Doctrine of Discovery”” was a power grab, land grab, conquering grab. (It originally started out as a series of Papal Bulls between Spain and Portugal over territorial disputes.)

But remember it was a time of those in power to conquer or be conquered. It was s time of state formations and migrations of large people groups.

Much of the lands of Christiandom had just come through an assault by the Saracens/Turks/Islam with the bulk of Christians martyred and killed for their faith and the ancient lands of Christianity and Judaism, much of North Africa and into a large portion of Europe were overrun by the Saracens.

Unfortunately it was also a time where Eastern Christians had already split with the West and unless they bowed to Rome they could expect no help with the Saracens. It is in this climate where Christians began to make protests against the abuses in the church by those in authority and often in collusion with Rulers of other countries (the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation), thus sojourner/pilgrims began traveling from one country to another to freely worship God yet they were ignorant that they were still slaves to a “superiority” mindset over “barbarians” engrained from the culture in which they were raised.

On to North Americans…

I finished reading a book called “1491” by Charles C Mann (2nd Edition) based on the most current archeological artifacts and narratives of the Americas. It has a very different point of view that I had not heard in this dialogue and may upset some of the “politically correct” narratives. His follow-up book 1493 is also fascinating.

It mentioned there was quite a bit of tribal warfare between opposing tribes along with disease wiping out entire tribes brought by European traders & slavers.

Another good read is “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick.

The basics of the back history to the Thanksgiving story is Chief Massasoit had been playing a political angle for better positioning and protection from an opposing tribal group. And there were two rival interpreters Squanto and another man (I can’t remember his name at this time) playing rival factions which all erupted in violence.

Chief Massasoit (smaller/weaker tribe) actually gave land with promised conditions of “my enemies are yours” so when another tribal group attacked, (a set up by one of the interpreters) the “pilgrims” were obligated to kill the opposing party. War broke out, and as in all wars there is decimation and devastation on both sides, but ultimately the settlers were the victors.

Long story short, rival tribal groups continued to play opposing sides with various European factions all the way up to the war of 1800’s. England was hiring one tribe to fight the newly formed United States of America who hired other native tribes to fight back.

Both European Americans and Native Americans were making promises that went unkept.

Along with European Americans having no idea that they brought diseases that native Americans had no immune system to fight against. They had a presumptuous false belief that God was blessing their “superior race” and punishing the heathens. Although many white people died from the small pox and influenza that swept through the colonies it did not wreck the devastation as it did on the natives.

As I mentioned before, we often forget this was a time period of European colonialism which spread across the globe. New political States/Countries we’re forming and boundary lines new constantly being redrawn.

Very different mindset and culture than we have today. The rise of Feudalism and “landed” people vs. “peasants”. It’s easy for us to slip into judgement of how “evil” the Western Caucasian Europeans were. But we should be cautious to label one “group of people” as the sole blame for “colonialism” when around the world it was s time of great upheaval and migration.

Let us also remember the conquests of the Asiatic cultures throughout Asia of one warring faction against another… names like: the Mongols, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, the Sultans of the “tribes” of Central Asia, the Saracens, Turks & Islam conquests eventually known as the Ottoman Empire.

Maybe let us go all the way back to the various warring tribes since the time of Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, “Ishmael against Issac”, Africans warring against and enslaving each other, all over the world where differing tribes try to conquer other tribes, including Europeans against Europeans (English vs. Irish, Catholic vs. Orthodox, French vs. English, etc.) up to the present day where we have Shiite’s vs. Sunni’s, Zulu’s vs. Hutu’s, and more.

Us against Them… we are still fighting over resources and differences.

Thanksgiving is a reminder we all are part of, in some way, a guilty tribe of one or the other.

Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity and a time to lay down our “arms” and open up our “arms” to “embrace the other without loss of the self” as Miroslav Volf would say in the latest book I’m reading, “Exclusion and Embrace” (given to me by my sister, Dr. Deborah Dunn, PhD, professor at Westmont College, Santa Barbara).

Thanksgiving is a time to remember how one “tribe” (Native Americans) decided to help another starving “tribe” (European settlers fleeing persecution, exclusion or annihilation) to survive.

At that time and place, having a meal together to celebrate and give thanks, was to recognize the benefits of the mutual survival of both tribes, a time of peace and diversity and sharing a common table and giving thanks.

Perhaps we can still learn from the “first thanksgiving” and not just about the food, and football and Macy’s parades.

Perhaps we can still seek the image of our creator God in the face of the other person, including one we would deem as our enemy or “not like us”.

Truly, each individual is made in His image, each one has unique gifts, talents, skills to enhance our own lives as much as we have to enhance theirs. Their is a universal law of the Sanctity of a Human Life.

Let us remember, let us repent, let us forgive, let us let go of the pain, let us embrace, let us heal, let us give thanks for each other and the God who created us all and longs to embrace us into One Body… His Love!

Let us celebrate and give Thanks for each other, our blessings, our God. Happy Thanksgiving

Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds (©2000)

I was going through a difficult trial in my every day life stresses, when I got the call on a Sunday afternoon that my brother was killed in a tragic automobile accident.  It was such an unexpected blow; I still remember the wailing that erupted from the core of my being.  All my previous difficulties seemed so trivial compared to this.  As I was driving to the funeral home, I began to listen to a CD, “My Utmost for His Highest”, based on the writings of Oswald Chambers, that I recently received.  One of the songs was entitled: “Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds” (sung by Steven Curtis Chapman).  The chorus went like this: “Sometimes He comes in the clouds.  Sometimes His face cannot be found.  Sometimes the sky is dark and gray.  But some things can only be known and sometimes our faith can only grow when we can’t see, so, sometimes He comes in the clouds.”
Somehow that song ministered to me and helped me get through the indescribable pain and loss I was experiencing and all the unanswered questions of “Why God?”  I knew that somehow my faith would grow through this painful time.
www-St-Takla-org--Jesus-Second-Coming-Advent-09Since then I have discovered in the Bible, clouds are connected with God.  “Look He is coming with the clouds…” (Revelation 1:7a)
Although I knew those familiar passages, about the coming of the Lord, I had pictured Him returning with white, fluffy clouds against a beautiful blue-sky backdrop and the sun gloriously shining.  This may all still be true, I do look forward to the day of the Lord’s return.
Nevertheless, the clouds in the song I mentioned before and often the clouds that come in my life, are storm clouds… dark, thick and black as smoke.  Where is God in all those kinds of clouds?  These are the times in my life I feel God has abandoned me.  The rain pounds (stress, pain, loss, discouragement, failures), the lightning flashes (angry outbursts, persecution, gossip, enemy attacks), the thunder crashes (fear, failed dreams, set backs, broken relationships), and sometimes the storms sends hail the size of Golf balls (death, divorce, tragedy, loss of health) to pound me down.  These are the times that cute, little, catch phrases are thrown around to try to bring comfort.  Sayings like, “behind every cloud there is a rainbow” or “the sun is still shining above the clouds, even though you can’t see it”.  For many years, I clung to those phrases for a single ray of hope.  They did help but not really ministering to me at my deepest point of need as I patiently endured the storm and waited until the clouds finally blew away.Jes_walk_on_water
I know some of us have heard the phrase,  “sometimes the Lord calms the storm, but sometimes He calms His child in the midst of the storm”.  However, I still looked at the clouds as some sinister presence or something trying to destroy me and only by the grace of God would I get through it somehow.  My outlook about clouds and storms changed when I discovered that sometimes God comes in the midst of the clouds that he even brings the clouds.  This means I do not have to wait until the end to see the sun, but that I have the SON with me in the midst of my storm.
“Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”  (Psalm 97: 2)  No matter what clouds or darkness surrounds me I am comforted that God’s righteousness and justice will prevail.  “He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under His feet.”  (2 Samuel 22:10)  No matter what clouds come in my life, the Lord has it under His feet; He is Lord over all; He has it under control.  “See the LORD rides on a swift cloud”.  (Isaiah 19:1I)  “He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.”  (Psalm 104:3b)  “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.”  (Deuteronomy 33:26)  If God can ride the clouds no matter how swift, I can be assured of His ever present help in my time of need and ride them out to as long as I hold onto His saving hand.  “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm and clouds are the dust of his feet.”  (Nahum 1:3)  I know that His ways are higher than mine, and that He can use the storms to perfect His plan for me, and these temporary circumstances and afflictions are but a speck of dust compared to the treasures of all eternity that He has stored up for me.walking_on_water_jekel
Then, I received the news that my 56-year-old mother had lung cancer.  The storm clouds came in big, heavy and dark.  After months of radiation and chemotherapy, leaving her body weak, she contracted pneumonia.  She was released from the hospital at the end of March, to go home and die, thinking she only had a few days to a couple of weeks left.  The cancer and the treatments left her with incredible nausea, so that even the slightest smell, the least bit of cough, she would get sick or have the dry heaves.  She was unable to eat anything and eventually subsisted on water.  She was in pain, barely able to breathe even with oxygen.  She would rally a bit for a week or two, and then she would plummet again and be at death’s door.
During this time, I cried out to God, “either heal my mother or let her die”.  No answer would come.  I would cry out to God, “then at least alleviate her suffering, make her stop vomiting.”  No answer would come.  We had all kinds of ministers, priests and chaplains from many denominations come and pray over her.  My sister and I would fast and have all night prayer vigils, we took mom to healing prayer meetings, we anointed her with oil, and all the other “formulas” that we could think of.  Perhaps we were praying wrong, perhaps we had sin in our life; perhaps this is a demon, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.  Where was God in all of this?
Oswald Chambers said, “Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of God.  It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith.  If there were no clouds, we should have no faith.  The clouds are a sign that He is there.  What a revelation it is to know that sorrow, bereavement, and suffering are the clouds that come along with God!  Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God’s character, we do not yet know Him.  Is there anyone ‘save Jesus only’ in your cloud?  If so, it will get darker; you must get to the place where there is ‘no one any more save Jesus only.’”  (My Utmost for His Highest)
I remember talking with someone who was not a Christian.  She asked question, “I don’t understand how God could let your mother suffer as she is, when she has served Him and loved Him so much?”  I remember sharing with her a truth that I am only beginning to understand.  It is easy to believe in God, when things are going our way, however, real faith believes in God when things are hard.  It is hard to believe God is a god of love, when you see someone suffer.  It is hard to believe in the character of God, His love, peace, joy and hope, when life is showing you the exact opposite.  Faith believes when you cannot see or understand.  It is there, in the midst of the cloud that God meets you.  It is like jumping off a cliff and finding the Lord there to catch you.
I need to learn to embrace suffering and accept it as a gift, an instrument to cause me to grow.  The Orthodox Christians have a saying that when you are suffering God is visiting you.  The Russian Christians would often go and ask for prayer from the one who is suffering, because they believed that person was closer to God in those times of sickness and trials.  The clouds are not there to block my view of God, but to block my view of everything else but God.  It is in the clouds that I can have intimacy with the Almighty.  I can hear His voice and be in His presence.bible-archeology-exodus-mt-sinai-sinai-drawing
“The LORD said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear Me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.’ …On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.  Everyone in the camp trembled.  Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire.  The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.  The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain.  So Moses went up.”  (Exodus 19:9,16-20)
It is hard to imagine that God could be in the midst of thunder, lightning, and thick dark clouds.  However, clouds are a symbol of God’s Holy presence.  Some people trembled with fear, but Moses was invited to go up into the cloud.  To be invited into the cloud with God, is a privilege that is given only those who are found worthy.  When Moses was invited up to the mountain within the cloud, it was by invitation only.  The rest of the people of Israel were told not even to come close to the mountain or touch it, lest they be destroyed.  Later, the tabernacle was built.  The presence of God would come down in the form of a cloud into the Holy of Holies.  Even there, the high priest could not approach unless the sacrifice had been made, and God had given approval.  “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.”  (Leviticus 16:2)  When Solomon dedicated the temple scriptures say, “When the priest withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.  Moreover, the priest could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled His temple.  Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that He would dwell in a dark cloud…” (I Kings 8:10-12).  To enter the cloud of God’s presence is by invitation and only those that God says are holy can enter in.
Carl_Bloch_The_Transfiguration_400The cloud of His presence was displayed when “Jesus took Peter, James and John, with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning… while he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  A voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; Listen to Him!”  (Luke 9:28-29,34-35)
Because of Jesus, we can now enter the cloud without fear, enter into His presence and hear the voice of the Lord, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:14-16)
In the midst of the clouds, we can now hear the voice of the Lord; we can now have guidance and direction for our lives.  We can receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Another assurance that clouds are actually a symbol of God’s guidance is found in Exodus 13:21-22.  “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”
8429133_origWho would have thought, clouds and fire could be the instruments that God would use to guide our lives and provide direction in the daytime or the nighttime?  “Beloved do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (I Peter 4:12-13)  In Daniel chapter 3, remember the 3 Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown in a fiery furnace so hot that the blaze killed the soldiers who threw them in.  Yet, when Nebuchadnezzar looked in, he said in amazement, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?  Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like the Son of God.”  You see Jesus was with them in the midst of the fire.
He is with us in the midst of our clouds, in the midst of the fires, in the floods, all things.  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  (Isaiah 43:1-4)
Walk into the clouds, the fires, and the rivers and let them be instruments for you to hear the voice of God and come to know Him more intimately than ever before.  “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”  (Isaiah 30:20,21)
The amazing thing about many of the heroes of the faith is that they had no idea how the outcome would turn out in the midst of their trials.  Abraham had no idea what God would do when he sacrificed Isaac, he just clung to the promise of God.  Daniel had no idea that the lions’ mouths would be shut, he clung to his faith in God.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had no assurance that they would not be destroyed.  But may I, and all of us who trust in the Lord, be able to say with their same conviction, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18)
I could not promise my mother would be healed.  I cannot promise that God will deliver neither me nor anyone else from pain or suffering.  I can cling to the promise of God’s word that He will never leave nor forsake us; and nothing will ever separate us from the love of God.  “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  (Luke 21:27-28)  When the Lord comes in the clouds, His redemption is near.
poster-jesus-14When the clouds come continue to serve the Lord, to trust in the Lord.  Let us be like Moses and enter the clouds.  Let the clouds teach you and be your time of hearing the voice of the Lord.  Let us approach the Almighty Holy God.  His Holy Fire will cleanse and purify us, His clouds will teach us, and His presence will embrace us.
“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him.”  (Nahum 1:7)

A Brief Introduction

I am a Dog Trainer, Singer, Inspirational Motivational Speaker, Writer.

I truly enjoy being a conference speaker, workshop speaker or just plain public speaking… the best part is sharing my heart, being real, being passionate about eternal values and caring for human beings then making that connection with the audience. Each speaking opportunity, each speaking moment is a unique moment in time, with unique individuals, never to be repeated again in time and space. What an awesome privilege to be part of the process of growing and sharing in this way with people.

I play the Guitar, Flute, Recorder, Irish Tin Whistle. I love to read, love history, love theology, love Celtic Christianity. I enjoy birdwatching, camping, houseboating, gardening, reading, music and fishing. I LOVE THE TRIUNE GOD!

I have a wonderful family and faithful friends… I love them so deeply. God has truly blessed me!

I invite you to visit my other websites/blogs: K9 Kelts Dog Training, Kieranna’s Blog

Thank you for visiting!

Art – Alive or Dead?

Aside

I am not an “art” person. I do enjoy looking at art and various styles of art. I have some artistic works that are displayed in my home.

What is it that makes a piece come “alive” and meaningful, not only to the artist who created the work of art, but to the viewer as well?

Realistic art, abstract art, expressionistic art and other artistic classes all have a way of speaking or communicating to me the viewer. I enjoy artistic works that upon first glance will stir an emotion or a thought. What causes me to stay and engage with a particular work is this element of “aliveness”. Can I smell? Can I taste? Can I touch or be touched?

ImageRecently I was shopping with a friend and she was interested in picking out a painting for her home. She loves wild cats (along with other animals) and we came across a large painting of a tiger. This was a beautiful full facial rendition of a tiger staring directly at you. It was very realistic, beautiful colors, details and the eyes were intense. This painting was going to possibly go in her living room. Although this was a gorgeous cat, I expressed my opinion. I felt if it was in my home it would give me a sense of anxiousness just thinking about what if this cat came alive and just pounced right on out of the painting. Personally, in my home I would prefer something a bit more relaxing, or peaceful.

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Of course, if you came to visit my home the first thing to greet you on my living room wall is a very larger painting of a wolf staring at you. I love this painting. For some the wolf would convey the same anxious feelings as the tiger. For me it gives me a sense of peace. Hmmm… Both of these wild animals are dangerous if encountered in their natural habitats. I wonder what makes me feel peaceful with one and anxious with the other?

Those Drops… by Kathleen Dunn, ©

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Can I really hold back the tears?

Can I really hold back the rain?

I may put on a hat to keep my head dry.

I may put on a coat so I won’t get a chill.

I may wear the right shoes so my feet won’t get cold… or so I am told.

I put up my umbrella, to give me additional cover.

Because all those harassing drops make me look something awful

After all, as you know, I have my appearance to keep up.

So I run to my car, my work and my house

To hide out & escape where it’s safe & it’s warm.

But alas, a few drops have fallen on my glasses

I can’t see very clear, my direction is cloudy.

I feel trapped, shut up inside, with no place to go.

But at least I’m safe & I’m dry for awhile.

Oh, Why does it have to sprinkle or pour?

Yes, I know we need it

…to water dry thirsty land

…to fill our rivers & lakes

…to purify & to cleanse

But every time the drops begin to fall

I just have to find shelter after all

So when it starts to come, I retreat inside

Tidy things up & organize.

As a child I remember, if you get caught in bad weather…

you might catch a cold, get sick & might die.

I never seemed to really understand why.

‘Cuz, I still got awfully sick even when I stayed inside.

Oh, but to be like a carefree child again & to play in the drops.

Let them fall…

so I can stomp in the puddles

so I can kick in the splash.

To be like a Child

Let the drops fall…

on my hands, palms upturned

& my eyes tightly closed

& my face heavenward

Let the drops fall…

on my tongue hanging out…

to water my thirst

to fill my dry soul

to cleanse me from my head to my toe.

ImageAnd if by some great miracle

Those drops turn to flakes…

What delight, what freedom, what joy

All my sins tho’ scarlet will be white like snow

Then I’ll lie down in it’s soft pillow white

And flutter a bit with my arms spread wide

For when I rise up I’ll see my angel behind.