One day holy Brigit needed to attend a gathering of the people for a compelling practical reason, and she sat in her chariot, which was drawn by two horses. As she sat in her vehicle, she practiced on earth the life of heaven, as was her custom, by contemplative meditation, and prayed to her Lord.
Thus wrote Cogitosus, the seventh-century Irish monk who authored the earliest biography of Saint Brigit. It is included in Oliver Davies’ wonderful anthology Celtic Spirituality in the Classics of Western Spirituality series. Even if we read this text as hagiography rather than history, this particular comment about Brigit’s spiritual practice while riding in her chariot is both illuminating and instructive. The “trinity” of Brigit’s spirituality include prayer, meditation and contemplation — suggesting that, although she lived half a millennium before Guigo the Carthusian wrote his classic instructions on Lectio Divina, she was familiar with the practice. Read the Bible, reflect (meditate) upon it, respond to God in prayer, and then rest — contemplate — in the Divine silence. But not only is Brigit a splendid exemplar of this monastic spirituality in a Celtic setting, but she clearly was a mystic, for she recognized in her spiritual practice “the life of heaven” here on earth. For Brigit, prayer, meditation and contemplation were not merely ways to placate a far-distant deity, but rather portals through which we can connect with the love of God — and the heavenly life such love affords — right here and right now.