I’ve had multiple friends post this week that they begin to see the first shifts in the seasons as the light stays around for longer. The skies here are already light when I wake up now, and I have to be up quicker to see the sun rise behind the copse of trees on the horizon. Look closely, and you can spot the first shoots of snowdrops as they push through the cold earth.
It’s the promise of Spring coming, even if snow is forecast tomorrow.
I read this in a recent email from Abbey of the Arts:
“February 1st is the Celtic feast of Imbolc which is one of the four cross-quarter days that fall between the solstices and equinoxes. In Ireland, Imbolc is the first herald of spring’s arrival. It means “stirring in the belly” which refers to the pregnancy of the ewes and the stirring of seeds deep beneath the ground.”
I love that phrase, stirring in the belly, perhaps because of how real that feels to me right now. This week I felt the baby move for the first time – tiny bubble pops of movement, a flurry of indescribable emotions.
Something else is happening in my life right now – multiple friends are announcing their pregnancies too, either to me or publicly. I can count five in the last three weeks. I rolled towards Rasmus last night and told him, “I’m not sure I’m very special any more”. He proceeded to laugh for longer than was polite.
Ha. Of course I’m not. According to my quick google search, over 350,000 babies are born every. single. day. My being pregnant is just another in the very normal, very expected way of life that so many couples around the world are living right now.
Babies are born, the seasons turn one day to the next, green shoots appear, the light stays longer, and another woman looks down at two pink lines on a stick…
And yet. There’s something so profoundly special about this. It’s special because we’ve waited a long time to get to this point. It’s special because I know other friends who are doing the heartbroken and lonely dance with infertility right now and I feel the sacred weight of this gift they still long for.
There’s this stirring in my belly and it connects me into this rhythm of life that the earth seems to be swaying to. The rhythm that starts here with Imbolc and the promise of spring, that grows and swells with all that’s green and new and lovely, that explodes into life with the summer solstice – the week our baby is due to make its arrival.
There’s dying and barrenness in this rhythm too, and I don’t always understand why that has to be. But still each spring, the buds appear again, the snows recede, the sun holds its place in the sky for longer.
Saturday is also the Feast day of St Brigid, patron saint of Ireland’s together with St Patrick. I’ve been reading the stunning and thought-provoking writings of Jan Richardson in her book “In the Sanctuary of Women“. She has a long chapter of writings on the life of St Brigid and so when I learned her feast day is tomorrow, I skipped forward to start reading with her.
It refreshes my heart to read about a woman whose faith and leadership was celebrated and imitated, a woman known for her generous hospitality as well as her establishment of monastic orders.
I’m so glad to be a part of the church where my gifts and passions are embraced and encouraged by those in leadership. I get to preach – such a surprise blessing – and lead and contribute ideas and give my opinion. It can be easy to forget in such a setting, that it is not so for every woman. Sometimes it startles me again, the realisation that someone would prefer that I was silent.
Brigid gives me hope, as one of the many strong and courageous women of faith who’ve gone before me, who’ve dared to speak up because the hope and joy they have found cannot be silenced for all the world.
There’s a stirring in the belly – it’s a child growing steadily inside me, it’s green shoots breaking through to the sun, and it’s the growing understanding of Spirit’s call to me, a woman of faith in this world.
Jan Richardson writes beautiful blessings at the end of every passage in her book. Today I speak one of my favourites over you, and hope that tomorrow you too may feel the stirring in the belly, however that might look for you.
“That your soul may live
in the cycles it needs.
That time may work
its wisdom in you.
reverie, and rest:
may the heart
of each moment
open to you.”