I was speaking to someone last night who got me thinking about what it is that I do – they were asking me about whether I knew anyone else about the place who worked with Brigid the way I do in Ireland. And y’know, I’m sure there are – loads of us – but what context we put it into, how we frame it to ourselves, what we speak to other people about… all of this limits to a certain extent how much any of us knows about another person’s practice or even if they have a practice.
And sometimes it’s a lot easier to explain these things to a stranger on the internet who doesn’t really know you from Adam, and who hasn’t been there for the past few decades as you grew to where you are now. Because, as humans, we all grow and change over time. I mean, there’s nothing quite like a friend who’s known you for decades pointing out your current stance on something is diametrically opposed to where you stood 20 yrs ago when you’re trying to focus on the improved you. And this can be difficult to deal with. So how do we deal with it?
The me of 20 yrs ago was very different to the me of today. My attitudes to social issues, gender rights, religion, politics, all that has changed. I’m no longer one of those girls who “isn’t like other girls”, or someone who “doesn’t see colour”. And there’s a part of me that wants to cringe at remembering these things. But the thing is, I didn’t know any better at the time and I’ve done a lot of work since then to get better at things.
And I’m still not perfect and there’s a fairly high chance that in another 20 yrs I’ll be looking back at my attitudes today and saying something similar about my views today. I hope to grow more inclusive and more aware of privilege and better able to navigate diversity over time.
But then there’s the friends that seem like they have a need for you not to change as well. You know the ones that express surprise every single time you express a view that isn’t consistent with your younger self? The ones that can really only connect with you on the “old days” or appear to need or want you to stay that younger self? (Side note here – this isn’t aimed at any of my friends, it’s a train of thought I’ve been running through for a while and the conversation last night followed by a dream I had crystallised it for me!)
We talk about romantic break ups a lot but we rarely talk about platonic break ups or how awkward it can be when you stop being friends with someone. And especially if these are friends from childhood, you’ve poured out your heart and soul to them and they’ve poured theirs out to you… there are so many links and ties and memories – it’s like they’re part of you in some ways and losing them is hard. I’m not talking about a drifting away here – that happens through lack of common interests or lives taking different turnings. I’m thinking about a more deliberate separation. Even to think about it appears wrong, right?
And yet… it happens. It doesn’t matter how long the friendship or how intense or how deep – there comes a time to step away and decide that this isn’t for you anymore. It’s not the end of the world, but it can be really difficult, and we don’t discuss this in society at all. Even a bad relationship can be mourned. But the breakup of a friendship? Sure you have other friends right?
And this can be part of the reason we keep our spiritual endeavours to ourselves or to people on the internet. It’s safer not to rock the boat. It’s easier to not have these difficult conversations with our friends. It’s not like we’re still teenagers, with hours to waste rambling on about this and that and nothing at all, right? We don’t want to face our friends with the truth of who we are now, because they still, at some part of themselves, see us as the person we were decades ago (and to be clear – we do the same to them! This isn’t necessarily a one-way street!!) So we stick to the safe topics. We have the light-hearted conversations. We regress to the selves we were at a certain point in time, rather than truly and wholly who we are now. And for most of us, it’s not really an issue.
But where does that leave us with deity? One of the biggest questions I see around the place is “Why isn’t Brigid responding the way she used to?” or “It feels like she’s abandoned me!!” (Last of which technically isn’t a question, but bear with me) And yes, it can feel like that sometimes. And there’s a few things to think about.
So for a start – a relationship with a deity is like any other relationship: it takes work and attention to make it work. And while I’m loath to state that Brigid will never abandon you, I will say it’s not my experience that she would do such a thing. Will she step away to allow you space and time to get your head around something? Oh yes. Can it feel like she’s just dumped a whole pile of work on you and walked away? Oh yes. Does it sometimes feel like the feeling you had around her previously isn’t there anymore? Oh yes.
But these aren’t necessarily bad things. She thinks you can deal with it, or there is something else going on. And sometimes… well sometimes, it’s time to move on from that relationship. I’ve not had that experience with Brigid, but I have had it with others. So, I know, it feels like the loss of something massive. But not all of us are cut out for life long or lives long relationships with a specific deity. Some of us are barely cut out for a lifelong relationship with ourselves! Now, there’s nothing to stop you continuing to pray to Brigid or make offerings or whatever you like. Really, no one but no one can dictate that but you (assuming you’re an adult and have complete control over your spiritual life – I recognise there are times in life and places in the world where this isn’t true!)
So a few things to check: is there someone else trying to get your attention? Have you tasks left undone for Brigid that’s she’s waiting for you to complete? Are you in the middle of a crisis in your life and don’t have time for spirituality? Is there something else going on?
Are you working with a deity out of habit?
Are you mostly there because of past shared experiences?
Are you feeling confined and restricted rather than supported?
All of these can be signs you might want to take a break or look around or see is there something else you’re missing. And it might not even be a new deity but a new area with this deity to investigate. But either way, whether we’re talking romantic, friendship or divine relationships, it does no harm to stop and take stock every once in a while. Especially if you feel there’s something wrong or not quite right and it needs to change.