Agape’s Annual Brigid Night, Sat. Feb. 3, 2024

Thank you Sam and Brian for your beautiful guiding spirits of preparation for and sharing in this sacred night.

Last night, about 30 people showed up for Brigid Night, including Claire Schaeffer-Duffy from SS Francis and Therese, Patricia Fitzpatrick, Justin Schaeffer Duffy and their youngest of three, Izzy, age 3; Dave Maciewski, his son Cooper, wonderful Aria on violin with Fran on Guitar with some great, lilting Irish laments and step dance music. 

Leah Gregg, our first Agape intern of over 30 years ago, came with her husband and a friend, Joanne, from their Jacob’s Well Street Ministry in Northampton, Ma, to share that their ministry now includes Leah involved with students/campus Ministry and other organizations at Umass Amherst.

We danced in the chapel, shash shaying, gathering each other up by the elbow and we “swung our partners” and Brigid looked on overseeing all in the painting by Debbie Kirk, which watched over us as we prayed, invoked the spirit of those Mission Council members and friends who have gone before us.  As Brian and Sam called on Brigid’s flame to light the dark night, our perfectly constructed bonfire, blazed, and we prayed the prayers of four directions.

Janet and Alden Poole, pray for us.

Paul McNeill, pray for us.

Ray and Lillian Lamothe, pray for us.

Rachelle Comptois, pray for us.

Pat Tracy, pray for us.

Rich Bachtold, pray for us.

Tom Lewis, pray for us.

Little Izzy was delighted with his flashlight and the fire, sweet smile, giving all of us sweet smiles as we relived a child’s fascination with the night sky, the cold, a few stars peeking through the night sky.  

Fran drummed us over to Brigid House, where Sam and Brian led a prayer in appreciation for the straw bales that hold it up, as do the spirits of those who have inhabited it.  Debbie put her hand over mine, as we breathed in the friendship of nearly forty years.

In the dark night, the sound of our feet shuffling over the snow, I watched Sr. Jane Morrissey, guided by Claire, steady her strong being, as she traversed the Agape land, as she did as the animator of the first Agape Francis Day in 1987.

We moved solemnly from the bonfire to the front of Francis House, where Sam and Brian knocked on the door as Rich Bachtold would do in the past: Calling out:

Midwife of Mystery, Open the Door, invoking Brigid as mid-wife of Jesus and the opener of doors.  

As the door opened, Dick Kirk, ushered us into Francis House with countless numbers of candles lit, and the hearth flowing with heat.  Dick, greeting us with Celtic prayers from the fifth century, as Aria and Fran worked their magic as we moved as a body of pilgrims into the warmth of our now formed circle.

The sharing in the circle began, and we were moved by Brian’s recounting of the role of Brigid as an ordained Bishop, and the monastery she oversaw, of men and women.

Sam led the sharing invoking the courage and strength of women through the ages and the presence of the Divine Feminine among us.

Sr. Jane Morrissey opened the circle with two poems from her memoir Jane in a Box, giving us the evocative push towards sharing intimacy and storytelling.

Dave Legg, Agape’s photojournalist, and Agape archivist, (find Dave’s meditation and photo/video artistry during the visit of Chief Arvol Looking Horse to Agape in 2017) along with Skip Schiel, read original poems about the recent snow, offering the consolations of nature in the evocation of the white crystals of the patterned flakes.

Dick Kirk gave us a strong poem about the aftermath of war on children whose fathers like his, served, in WWII and the haunting reality of the lives of those who return to family life with their devastation and trauma.

Dinah shared a poem written by a woman poet in Gaza.

Palestinian children covered in dust from an Israeli air strike sit in the grounds of a hospital in Rafah CREDIT: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

Palestinian children covered in dust from an Israeli air strike sit in the grounds of a hospital in Rafah CREDIT: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images.

Write My Name

“Some parents in Gaza have resorted to writing their children’s names on their legs to help identify them should either they or the children be killed.”
—CNN, 10/22/2023

Write my name on my leg, Mama
Use the black permanent marker
with the ink that doesn’t bleed
if it gets wet, the one that doesn’t melt
if it’s exposed to heat

Write my name on my leg, Mama
Make the lines thick and clear
Add your special flourishes
so I can take comfort in seeing
my mama’s handwriting when I go to sleep

Write my name on my leg, Mama
and on the legs of my sisters and brothers
This way we will belong together
This way we will be known
as your children

Write my name on my leg, Mama
and please write your name
and Baba’s name on your legs, too
so we will be remembered
as a family

Write my name on my leg, Mama
Don’t add any numbers
like when I was born or the address of our home
I don’t want the world to list me as a number
I have a name and I am not a number

Write my name on my leg, Mama
When the bomb hits our house
When the walls crush our skulls and bones
our legs will tell our story, how
there was nowhere for us to run
Zeina Azzam

Skip Schiel, member of Agape’s Mission Council for over 30 years, then shared his reflections, borne of 20 years or more as a photojournalist in Gaza, on life in the tunnels of Gaza.  See Skip’s poetic blogs on his blog/website teeksa photography.

Claire Shaeffer-Duffy movingly read her own poetry, which included a poem about a trek in the Himalayas where she carried and spread her father’s ashes.

Peter Anderson shared the poem, “Consciousness Rhythms” by his late wife, Nina, which encourages all of us to look to the end of our lives as “coming into a new life./So be glad and rejoice.”  We were moved to have Nina’s words with us once again.

Teresa Wheeler, told of her mother, Jane Wheeler’s nonviolent reconciliation with Bishop Harrington and the pastor of their family parish.  We laughed at some of the jokes Teresa shared relating to this Divine Intervention, and sighed over the Divine Feminine strength and courage of Jane.

After gifts shared, we moved into the inviting chapel, candles glowing, and passed around the Iona stone from Iona, gift of Bruce Davidson of Sirius Community, and shared prayers as we passed it from pilgrim to pilgrim.

After the prayers, we ended the evening with a rousing circle dance, some attempts at Irish step-dancing, and an announcement by Patricia Kirkpatrick of the women’s circle entitled: 

Women Grieving Gaza, to be held at Agape on Sunday, February 25th from 2pm to 5 pm.  Flier below, and women, please respond by Feb. 18th:

We shared a sumptuous pot-luck, and felt the power of Brigid as the Patron Saint of almost everything and everybody, as Brayton read of her many concerns, diary-maid, refugees, afflicted, abandoned, on and on and on.

Brayton took us out with Thomas Berry’s incredible poem about writing a poem:

                    How to Be a Poet


(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.   

Sit down. Be quiet.   

You must depend upon   

affection, reading, knowledge,   

skill—more of each   

than you have—inspiration,   

work, growing older, patience,   

for patience joins time   

to eternity. Any readers   

who like your poems,   

doubt their judgment.   


Breathe with unconditional breath   

the unconditioned air.   

Shun electric wire.   

Communicate slowly. Live   

a three-dimensioned life;   

stay away from screens.   

Stay away from anything   

that obscures the place it is in.   

There are no unsacred places;   

there are only sacred places   

and desecrated places.   


Accept what comes from silence.   

Make the best you can of it.   

Of the little words that come   

out of the silence, like prayers   

prayed back to the one who prays,   

make a poem that does not disturb   

the silence from which it came.

Source: Poetry (Poetry)