I wrote this a few years back and want to share it with you as we honor this night.
It’s almost Imbolc and I am sitting here, thawing my feet after an outdoor ceremony. We invoked Her Name, as Protector of the Waters. We used a small candle that had been lit at Brigid’s eternal flame in Kildare to light our fat vigil candles–a few of them even stayed lit in the freshing breeze.
We met before sundown in a public park to stand in solidarity with the waters and people of West Virginia. When we planned this event it was a typical southern Appalachian winter day–warmish, sunny, the promise of a new planting season in the moist air.
But weather changes and we have the saying around here that if you don’t like the weather you should wait half an hour because it is bound to change. And change it did. Our mild day turned into a brisk afternoon with snow showers that looked like blizzards and snow flakes bigger than half-dollars. The wind got up and the temperature went down.
In the gazebo of the river park, we smoothed out a green cloth and one woman brought flowers and another brought a bag of wood chips that had been left by a local beaver. We laughed about beaver chips–were they for beavers or by beavers or made of beavers?
We circled up around a picnic table as the light began to fade. Hand found hand as we grounded ourselves and arranged the bottles of water we’d brought from home. We spoke of our hurt and anger and frustration about the poisoned waters of West Virginia. Some of our circle-mates were from West Virginia and some of them had just gotten back from there, delivering water from our hills to theirs.
There was memory alive in that small circle and our Ancestors were also there, bearing witness to us as we bore witness, too. And still the old rivers mingled in their joining and headed north, always north. Brigid stood with Her people, as she always has and always will and She paced the pavillion as we each held the big jar of our mingled waters and wept over it and blessed it.
She tiptoed down through the snow with us to stand on the icy wooden overlook, as we sang, as we honored the old river and poured in our offering of healing and grief and mercy and grace.
I can feel my toes now and am grateful for the circle in the brisk night, for the clean water that has made my hot tea, for the presence of Brigid as we grieve our own carelessness and stupidity. How can we not expect to lose the things we don’t value? How we can love water enough to save it and thereby save ourselves?