Two cats sit on patio furniture, each in her own chair. The lefthand cat, a dark tabby, looks away from the other; the righthand cat, a calico, appears to be looking over at her sister.

Godly gaps and human strength

Right off the bat, let me disclaim: this is a little bit about druidry, but mostly it’s a shout-out to my husband (though it takes a little bit to get there). Jarod and I have our problems — all couples do. And over the past couple years, there have been times when the problems have been really awful: we’ve had plenty of fights with heated words and forceful arm-waving; I’ve cried myself to sleep at least once out of despair; and (worst of all) there’ve been too many occasions where quiet words fade off into silence, each of us staring into the distance. And in those times, I’ve often beseeched the gods for help.

Sidebar: this is actually a little maddening for a married person who worships the Celtic gods, because there’s not an obvious deity to whom to turn in times of marital struggle. Not that the gods are limited to their supposed functions: it’s not as if Brigid would turn up her nose at a worshipper who doesn’t come to her with a concern specifically pertaining to fire, any more than I, a writer, would categorically refuse to think about numbers. But still, it would be nice to pray to… a specialist, I suppose you’d say? And whereas, for example, the Greeks had Hera, or the Norse Frigga, over here in Keltia it’s a little vaguer. Aengus Og? More like the god of wooing and passion. Áine? Ditto, maybe more so: they’re neither of them known for their stability in the long game of marriage. The Matronae? Inasmuch as your own mother cares about your marriage, sure. But it’s not really any Celtic god’s brief.

Still, I’ve prayed to Manannán for his aid in finding a path through our difficulties. To Brigid, that she stoke the fire of compassion and care in both our hearts, and heal our frayed emotions. To Lugh, master of all arts, that he grant me a portion of his wisdom and knowledge. And in doing so, I felt comfort: sometimes the action of prayer is its own answer, an externalizing of emotion that itself brings a measure of peace.

Yesterday, though, Jarod reminded me why I married him. We’ve been moving around some art in preparation for a furniture building project he’s planning on embarking on, and in doing so he moved the painting that’s hung near my altar space for a while now. It’s not a portion of the altar per se, but I’ve become accustomed to it being there, a sort of accidental reredos. Jarod could tell I was unsettled by the changes, and when I revealed the reason, he immediately moved the painting back, against my protestations that it really wasn’t that important. And why? “I want your altar to feel good to you. That’s important to me.”

Note that Jarod is, for all intents and purposes, an atheist, or at most a rather skeptical agnostic. He’s very respectful and interested in my religious path and practice, but it’s simply not his thing. And yet he went beyond the more expected ‘it’s important to you and I respect that’: his response was a simple statement that revealed much about who he is as a person and a spouse.

And that episode also reminded me of our own resilience, above and beyond whatever strength we may gain from prayer and sacrifice. I met and married Jarod before ever I prayed or made offering to the Old Gods: that’s all us. I give thanks for the gifts that I have received from the many gods, but today I also praise my own choices in love and in life, and my fortune in finding a partner who supports me as I support him.

Love you, hon.

—–

Header image: Our cats, separately together. (Because it’s surprisingly difficult to find an appropriate image for this kind of post, and our cats are lovely and emotive.)

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