Posted in Family, Recovery

Shining a Light into the Dark Places

Brigid with the Imbolc lambs (and on my arm)

It’s Imbolc, a fire feast and a day that belongs to Brigid, Celtic goddess of fires, of home and hearth and healing, of smithcraft and wordcraft. (Or–for those more comfortable with a different version of her–Saint Bridget, patroness of those same things, as she has also been known since the Catholics co-opted her some centuries back…)  Imbolc celebrates the lambing, the new life of spring after the dark of winter, the coming of Light.

It’s a celebration of beginnings, of cleaning house both literally and figuratively, of lighting the dark corners and praying for continued blessings in the upcoming year. At this time last year, my husband Keoni and I had only just collected our 30-day Sobriety chips after our awful alcoholic relapse, and it was a time of intense spiritual house-cleaning.

the Imbolc broom & the prayer-beads Keoni made for me last year

Despite my Irish roots, last year was the first that I took Imbolc to heart, right down to the symbolic broom Keoni made for me from the dried lily-stalks in our yard, and the string of turquoise prayer-beads he strung for me, not in ‘catholic’ decades, but in thirteens…. (That’s a number signifying transition, resurrection, and ascension or enlightenment; and a gemstone esteemed in ancient cultures around the world for its putative healing properties… And which, on a more humorous note, matches my entire closet…) .

I think it was good ol’ Groucho Marx, whose humor sometimes hid his wisdom, who said:

Blessed are the Cracked, for they shall let in the Light.

We had quite thoroughly cracked ourselves…  And so… It has been a year of Light.  With its darknesses too, as my writing the other day no doubt illustrated. But there’s the Light shining through, too–in the prayers and virtual hugs and uplifting comments that all of you sent my way in response to that post.  My deepest, heartfelt thanks!

three faces of Brigid–poet, life-giver, healer

And–to highlight some darkness–in all fairness I have to observe that, although I don’t believe the ex-husband’s behavior (especially in front of the kids) was in any way excusable, his underlying mistrust of me is not unfounded.  If I thought he’d pretty well ridden his “High Horse” to death when I was 22 months sober–well, I handed him a brand new horse when I drank again.  Trust might heal with time, but I don’t have the right to expect it from anyone.

One of the many people whose trust I had train-wrecked was my sister… We each only have one sister, she and I–but I had been allowing myself the illusion that she wasn’t interested in having hers anymore, and I had been determinedly withdrawing for a good while now…  But, in the spirit of spiritual house-cleaning, that’s one of the functions of the A.A. Ninth Step of “making Amends” to those we’ve hurt. And this week I fumbled my way into the beginning of the Amends process with my sister.

with my sister six years ago–before my drinking drove a wedge

I say “fumbled” because (since we’re shining lights into dark corners here, I must be honest) I began by behaving very badly, and unloading a resentment of mine–which (I quickly realized in reading her thoughtful response) was a ridiculous thing to do when I hadn’t yet stepped up to my own damaging drinking behaviors that so severely impacted her.  With the wise guidance of my Sponsor (the “Jiminy Cricket” conscience who sits on my shoulder and suggests I get my head out of my ass when my head is getting ahead of my Recovery) and some heartfelt prayer, and the open heart of a sister who, in fact, doesn’t wish to be rid of me, that bad beginning actually drop-kicked me into an overdue beginning at Amends.

Making Amends is not a matter of apologizing.  As my Sponsor says, people have been hearing “I’m sorry” from us drunks too many times to make it a meaningful statement. Rather, it’s an accounting of the harms we’ve caused someone, followed by the question: “What can I do to make this right?” So today I’m in possession of a treasured answer to that question, and today is a life with my Sister in it once again. Talk about the Light shining through the Cracked Places of a Soul!

The prayer hand-written on the fly-leaf of my battered A.A. Book–the prayer I usually use when those prayer-beads are in hand–is one that was written to Brigid, although it could certainly be directed to a Higher Power in any form…

Make me strong in spirit,

courageous in action,

gentle at heart.

Help me act in wisdom,

conquer fear and doubt,

discover the hidden gifts within me,

meet others with compassion,

be a source of healing energy,

and greet each day with Hope and Joy.

So on that note…. Here’s wishing you a Blessed Imbolc, or Happy Candelmas, or Merry Groundhog Day, or…  simply a day of Blessings and Light.


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

36 thoughts on “Shining a Light into the Dark Places

  1. I needed this reminder. I’ve been so busy I completely missed that it was Imbolc. So today will be my cleaning day, both internal and external.

    And the prayer will be put to good use too. Thank you for sharing it.

    All the best on your journey into the light.


  2. Kana, your honest and heartfelt writing brings tears to my eyes. Good for you, my dear, for sticking your neck out and getting those real feelings and thoughts on this page. As a sister who had a brother who broke my trust with the aid of alcohol for 20 years before finding the miracle of AA, I can assure you that your sister is eager to hold you close in her heart again and enjoy your presence. Trust takes a while to rebuild, but don’t get discouraged. My brother was back to being my best friend for 20 more years of his sobriety until his untimely death at 54 from cancer. He is still my best friend.


  3. Excellent take on making amends. I can not reach many of the people that I have harmed while using – some are dead and some were perfect strangers. What I have to do now is be the best wife, mother, daughter, neighbor, friend and citizen that I can be every day.


  4. I’m smiling from ear to ear! I am so happy that you and your sister are in the process of forging a new relationship — sisters are gifts of the goddess, and what I would do without mine, I can’t imagine! Good stuff — enjoy each other, now that you have each other back. Glad to read this post!


  5. I have to thank Miranda for turning me on to your blog, Kana, as I truly love it! Because of bipolar disorder, I had more than a decades worth of therapy–and know the struggle of recovery. If only I had had a blog like this during those years.

    You really are a light! And I’m so pleased to hear you and your sister are reconnected.

    Hugs and blessings,


  6. One of the great pleasures I have today is watching the healing light of the Sunlight of the Spirit begin to shine brightly in other people’s lives. The transformation I have made is so miraculous it could only be carved out by divine intervention so watching it happen in others is very special.

    Never forget that you are the beacon in someone else’s journey.

    It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character. — Dale Turner


  7. This is beautiful, Kana.

    I’ve followed the Celtic sabbats for some time now. I love the symbolism even though I’m not that religious or even very spiritual. I love how they are attuned to the turning of the seasons and the movement of the earth.

    Imbolc is a great time. It also means Beltane is just around the corner, and this year I might have to drum up some fun and throw a bonfire.


  8. Great post. Thanks for baring your heart and emotions to all of us. You are truly an insprirational person. I know it isn’t easy to talk about ones problems and foibles, but when we share them with others it makes them aware that they are not the only ones with those same issues. I like what you said about making amends with those we have grown distant from. I know that is an area I should work on myself. I am not an alcoholic, but I have friends who are, and it is hard to watch them engage in self-destructive behavior and not know what to do to help them when they refuse to want to be helped. Your blog gives me a lot of insight into what thier world and life is like, and I think it will help me to better understand what they are going through. Thank you so much.


    1. It’s one of the hardest things (because I experience this one from “both sides”) to watch someone self-destruct and not truly WANT to be helped yet… Sometimes all we can do is BE there, waiting for a person to want it. But what a gift it is when that happens! :)


  9. Hi,
    I smiled when I read about you and your sister, fantastic news, and a lovely photo of the 2 of you as well. As others have said, you certainly are inspirational.


  10. Blessings on you, fellow Celtic, on St.Brigid’s Day. In Irish folklore, it is believed this is the day for the greatest fertility in ewes, such an important mainstay for traditional farmers. You have shown us that your love for your sister, and hers for you, is very fertile with the promise of New Life through Him. The light is increasing each day, in nature and in you, dear Kana. We love your sister for loving you! And I want one of those sage brooms!


  11. Lovely blog, Kana. Your honesty and courage brought a tear to my eye. May the light keep pouring in the ‘cracks’ for you. God bless!! x


  12. There is just nothing like a sister. You two keep at it and the rewards will be numerous. Thanks for the lovely post. i don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone without a crack or two.


  13. Beautifully written and beautifully done. I am so glad that you are working things out with your sister and your self. I was worried after that last bit…funny how concerned and attached one can get to someone by way of reading their blog…


    1. I’m touched to realize that people care (and sorry to have caused worry!)–quite the family we have here, isn’t this? ;)


  14. Brigid is pleased. I think old celtic truths don’t wane, they just keep getting re-affirmed. That’s one way you know they are true. You reaffirmed me this week. Here’s to True.


  15. I thought the situation with the ex might shake things up. We never run out of stuff that will remind us of our Work! And our brooms are never done. Blessings a few days after Imbolc’s lambing.


  16. I am so happy that you are building your way back to a life with your sister. I have lost 3 (to death) and the two birth sisters I have left are my heart history.


  17. Nice one, Kana. Out driving today and noticed the snowdrops for the first time. How do they know it’s the beginning of February?

    Imbolc: And then once more the days we count, ’till eve of February mount, and bright moon lights fair Brigid’s way, that she might come and bless the flame, and keep alive through frost-crisp nights, the Imbolc prayer of hope and life, that lost sun mount once more the sky, and Brigid’s goodness to him fly – ’till Springtime’s moons of glowing grace, soften the earth and yield a trace, of nature’s bounty pushing through, the miracle of life renewed.

    There’s a bit of the Irish, and the WIccan in me too.





  18. What a beautiful and inspiring post! Walking that sobriety road is surely a challenge every single day, and a fall off the wagon does NOT make you a failure, as you got back on said wagon. Good for you! I have a brother that has been clean & sober 25 years now, during a divorce, raising kids alone, and a million other tough times and I am so proud of him. I know it hasn’t been easy, and he told me he thinks about it every day, and a little voice says “just one beer won’t hurt you” even after all this time. Anyone who writes and thinks as beautifully and deeply as you do is worth all the trouble you give yourself!


  19. Hey Kana, Congratulations on having your sister back in your life at last!
    And thank you for the inspired and inspiring post, and for the reminder that it’s Imbolc! It completely passed me by. But I’ve been watching the light come back since the Solstice. Our balcony faces west, and we watch the sun setting a little bit later and little more to the north every day.
    I’m also heartened by your casual reference to coming back into the light from relapse, having just fallen off the wagon into a black hole of depression myself. I’ve been dragging myself out one day, one moment, at a time, climbing a thin thread of hope back to where I can again open myself to accept the many kinds of help that are there for me. Your words help so much. Bright blessings, Lady.


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