Aug 23, 2010
No, I'm not talking about the Irish being perpetually late or not particularly worried about time schedules. That's another topic. I'm talking about the ancient Irish perception of time. This can be a difficult concept for modern thinkers who view time as linear: yesterday, today, tomorrow.
These ancient people believed that for God, all time was simultaneous. That is why many of the legends disregard chronological time. For instance, St. Brigid was said to have been midwife to the Virgin Mary, despite that she lived in the 5th century. St. Ita nursed the baby Jesus. St. Brigid and St. Patrick were contemporaries (when they weren't) and other saints are said to have spoken to St. Patrick before he came back to Ireland even though they lived hundreds of years after St. Patrick died.
Does this sound odd? If it does, consider that it's the stories--not the lack of historical accuracy--that is important. When I give talks people often ask if these ancient saints were real people, is there proof that they existed? I believe the stories are lessons to guide us in our spiritual lives. While Brigid could not have aided in Jesus's birth, the fact that the story says she did points to her character. She was giving and kind, and would have been someone Mary would have asked if she had the chance because Brigid was that special and had that close of a relationship with Christ.
It's hard to think of how God views time because our brains are so limited. I suppose the ancient Irish were trying to picture the concept for themselves, and thus, for us who would read and hear of the tales down through the ages.