On New Year’s Day, I walked, trembling with anticipation and reverence, into Brigid’s Well. To the Irish, she’s a saint; to me, she’s a Goddess. Either way, she’s holy and sacred, and her well springs from water somewhere unseen and runs as a little underground river, culminating in a small pool inside a small cave at the end of a long tunnel. We’d driven through ice and snow, on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car to get here, and now that I was here, I could barely think. My brain, in fact, had taken a moment off while my heart and soul embiggened so big as to entirely take me over. My vocal cords shut down.
We thought we were lost, but I suddenly knew we were in the right place. My feet knew exactly the path, my body moved on her own accord, and I walked through a garden, down a path, across a creek and down some steps, finding the entrance to the little tunnel with guidance from something bigger than myself. I stood outside for a moment, taking it in.
This was, without a doubt, the most holy, most sacred place I have ever been. The little garden surrounding the opening of the Well was full of cards, letters, scribblings on the walls… people begging for help, pleading for healing. People from around the world come here, to this tiny garden, to this little cave and its sacred pool within, to ask the Saint Goddess for healing and help.
My heart nearly burst.
The echoes of everyone who has ever been there remain. I could feel them all, I could hear them whispering. My heart felt the tears of a million eyes, and my own eyes filled.
I put my hand on the wall and soaked it in, and then I ventured inside.
Pace was behind me, giving me space and having her own experience. We spoke not a word, not a sound. My tears escaped and ran down my face, unstopping. The cave was full of pleas for help and healing. Photos, letters, notes, more writing on the walls, candles… the tunnel was overflowing. I slowly, silently walked down the tunnel to the tiny cave at the end, to the little pool of crystal clear water bubbling. Water, just like the water I drink and bathe in, but nothing like any water I’ve ever seen – at the same time. The same thing but not the same thing.
I knelt before the pool. It wasn’t enough; I laid on the ground at the edge. I took off the necklace Pace bought me for Yule and held it in my hand. I asked Brigid to bless it, to bless me, and I dunked the pendant into the pool. It wasn’t enough; I dunked my hand. Still not enough, and I dunked my entire arm. The water was barely melted ice, so cold it would have hurt – but it didn’t. It felt right, perfect, icy cold but warm and safe. I fumbled in my purse and dropped my pen into the water, asking Brigid to accept it as a sacrifice, and please bless my writing and my creativity, please help me write and help me find words to express my heart. I laid there at the edge of her pool and my tears rolled off my cheeks and into her waters. I ran my fingers along the bottom of the pool and felt a stone, and knew it was for me. I felt acceptance and love like I’d never experienced in my entire life, giving new meaning to unconditional.
After a moment, I stood. I put my necklace back on and clutched the stone in my hand, then carefully placed it in my bra, next to my heart. (There’s an amazing story about that stone, actually, but I’ll save it for later.)
Pace and I slowly, slowly retraced our steps. She pointed out a note in particular that made her happy, and we shared it without words. Our hands found each other, and our connection magnified, and I’m sure we glowed.
We made our way back to the car. The lump in my throat prevented words, but Pace understood and made no effort to get them out of me.
We drove off, and I was changed forever.
Two major things happened to me that day. One, I realized immediately, and the other, I realized about a week ago.
The first: it doesn’t matter if she was Brigid the Goddess or Brigid the Saint. She Was, and that was all that mattered. She was there, and people everywhere came to her and believed in her with all their hearts. They asked, begged, pleaded, wept, roared, stared – all of them just like me, all of them believing and hoping and needing. And if Brigid was a Saint and a Goddess, both and neither and everything in between, so could all the other gods be part of all the other gods. All one, all the same, all everything.
The second: I didn’t ask Brigid, the Goddess of creativity and of childbirth, to bless my womb. In January, I was still blissfully unaware of my impending hysterectomy. I had no idea that, in exactly one month, my uterus would collapse and my hopes and dreams of being a surrogate would die. But there, in her presence, the blessing I most needed and most wanted was for inspiration and guidance as a writer.
Still sinking in, that one. But it’s important. Critical. Vital to my journey.
My journey feels a little less tragic now, somehow. A little more… peaceful. Purposeful.