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  • Jennifer Preston Chushcoff


Blast from the Past

Keep the Candle Burning – St. Brigid: Ireland’s Patron Saint of Sailors

Keep the Candle Burning combines my love of photography, encaustic and poetry with the talents of my two younger sisters: Katherine, a model, and Elizabeth, a poet. It is our first collaboration.

Katherine had decided to join the Navy. It was an emotional time as we were all sad to see her leave, but excited for her journey and proud of her sacrifice.

Her departure led me to think of St. Brigid “Fiery Arrow”(c. 451-525), Ireland’s red-haired patron saint of sailors, creativity and poets. The child of a powerful Druidic chieftain and his Christian slave, her unique circumstances bridged the gap between pagan beliefs and Christian spirituality. Named after the goddess of fertility, she founded an art school that produced illuminated manuscripts, including the famous Book of Kildare, and was close friends with St. Patrick. As Ireland’s first nun, her image is associated with the “lamp of learning and wisdom,” which is considered sacred to both Celts and Druids. It is said that she lights the fire that is never extinguished.

Over the Memorial holiday, with only weeks to go before boot camp, I scheduled a photo session and captured Katherine, also a redhead and our own “fiery arrow,” as Saint Brigid.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth composed a poem, Wondrous Works in the Deep, to accompany the piece. It’s about danger, safety and salvation. Elizabeth’s poetry was most recently featured in the Washington History Museum and the Gig Harbor Maritime Museum.

Keep the Candle Burning – St. Brigid: Ireland’s Patron Saint of Sailors embodies both a new technique and the collaborative debut of three sisters. It was a challenge to complete the project as a team, but it brought us together in surprising ways. Your call to artists prompted it. Thank you.

Jennifer Chushcoff, Elizabeth Beck and Katherine Beck

Wondrous Works in the Deep By Elizabeth Beck

She wards the ocean our sins submerged – forgotten Commanded the Voice of many waters but winds and gales beset our sails and drowning men cling to the tide-lights Flickering shoals skirting the Isle of Destiny.

Oh, do not weep For none may die, yet only sleep while our Lord governs the gates through tempest rage and waves that swell there’s danger here, protect us well.

Our sister of fire, our Lady of Eire consecrated bride of the fathomless blue, she anchors her soul in the whispering seas.

This piece is sold.


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