07 Aug 2022

OPINION: Arrival of Spring provides hope dark days of Covid coming to an end

Arrival of Spring provides hope dark days of Covid coming to an end

Brighter days are ahead as flower grower Brian Perrot and his niece Charlotte Keppel (7) welcome their first daffodil crop of the year on their farm in Bandon, Co. Cork

LAST Monday was St. Brigid’s Day, Lá Fhéile Bríde, a time when the people of Ireland traditionally celebrate the beginning of Spring, heralding as it does the  arrival of longer and warmer days, and the beauty of new beginnings as the natural world reawakens.

Throughout the centuries, the day of veneration of St. Brigid, which itself was inspired by the Celtic celebration of ‘Imbolc’ associated with the fertility goddess Brigid, has been an opportunity for people to make a symbolic journey,  either tangibly, as a pilgrimage to a holy well, or more symbolically, re-connecting with the sacredness of the land and the splendour of the sky.

It is from this tradition that Lá Fhéile Bríde has evolved to become, in contemporary times, a celebration of the creativity, genius, courage and achievement of Irish women, the President, Michael D. Higgins noted in a special address to mark the feast day.

He added: “St. Brigid was a woman who rejected the conventions of her time, who dedicated herself to innovation in the realm of education, and who, in seeking to ensure that her voice was heard in a male-dominated world, had to summon an extraordinary courage, transcend obstacles, and not just survive but put a new version of things in place. How appropriate, then, our invoking her is for our present circumstances.

“Generations of Irish women have benefited from her inspiration and legacy. Today, as we recall her story with admiration, may we also resolve to seek inspiration in her example, to pursue our ideal of equality, universal respect for rights, and a better world for all our citizens, male and female.”

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people have lost their lives to the virus. Many of those they left were without the intimacy of their passing or the opportunity to grieve as they would wish. Countless people too have seen their lives radically altered, their livelihoods curtailed and the social bonds, from which they drew comfort and joy, ruptured.

President Higgins stressed that “it is appropriate that we all pause to  acknowledge the distress of all those for whom the pandemic has brought such pain and loss, and all those who are now experiencing loneliness and isolation from the contacts with those who previously sustained them.

“And so, as we celebrate the courage and commitment of St. Brigid in her day, we in our day pay tribute to all of those who, in their different ways, continue to put their lives at risk as they continue their important work, for the benefit of all of us their fellow citizens.

“As we prepare to move into the brighter, warmer days of Spring, with the renewed hope that it brings, the reality of the present, the present we share, is that the winter of the Covid pandemic is still upon us, and continues. The dark days of the pandemic will continue to challenge us for some time, and while lockdown fatigue is very real and palpable for so many, we must continue our journey within and muster up courage.”

Spring and springtime offer rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth.

Now as we move closer to the Spring Equinox, let us hold firm in solidarity and take solace in the transformations that Spring will bring and the joys of Summer which, although we still have some distance to travel to them, are surely awaiting us.

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