I really like this day. If I am Irish, it is only a little bit. I don’t particularly like corned beef and cabbage (although I haven’t a reuben sandwich I didn’t like.) I am not into green beer or beer at all, or Irish whiskey (my sister did introduce me to Jameson’s and ginger ale with a twist of lime which is pretty tasty.) So, obviously I am not in it for the food or the drink.
This morning, Andrew and I “wogged” (combination of walking and jogging) the 7th annual Saint Patrick’s day 5K.
This year the charity was the Shriner’s Hospital for Children. We did the race 7 years ago and signed up last year, but were unable to participate because I was presiding at a funeral. It was colder than I liked but it always feels good to finish and keeps me moving by signing up rather than sitting all the time!
This day tends to be centered around too much drinking and partying, which is not something Patrick would have appreciated or encouraged. Still, people wear green, do silly things and celebrate a saint who might actually shock them.
I find myself fascinated by St. Patrick. There is not much known definitively about Saint Patrick. He was active in Ireland in the fifth century. He didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland (as legend tells), but maybe with God’s grace he drove the snakes out of his own heart. In reading his Confessions I am drawn to his struggles, his lack of education, his ache of “not getting it right.” He was accused and humiliated for something he done as boy, and he received a call to go to Ireland, which he did not want to do. There is some evidence that he disliked the Irish (and why wouldn’t he since they had kidnapped and enslaved him) and then his heart was changed and he grew to love the people he served in Ireland.
What I appreciate most about the story that is known, is that Patrick having been kidnapped from home as a teenager, forced into slavery, embraced faith. He ran away, went home, offered himself to God and ended up back among those who had abused him. The link to his “Confessions” above is only a few pages long and in reading it, his lack of education, his struggles with the powers that be and his passion for his ministry that finally includes the people of Ireland is moving.
In our current world, we embrace hatred and xenophobia like a badge of honor. We nurse hurts and spew bitterness and resentment all over social media. Now, in the last few years, we can become viral immediately with just 140 characters. Just think what St. Patrick could have done before he finished writing his confessions, BEFORE his heart had been moved from hating those who kidnapped and enslaved him to embracing his calling, his mission and a new found love for that same people.
In the middle of Lent, it seems to me that is what the “kin(g)dom of God” is all about: enough love to overcome hate, enough grace to overcome bitterness, enough forgiveness to overcome resentment. God can drive out the snakes of hatred, of prejudice against those who are not like us, of resentment of those who have wounded us and hurt us and instead bring the grace and forgiveness and mercy to the most broken of hearts.
A prayer, attributed to St. Patrick is one of my favorites. You can find a beautiful sung version
A portion of that prayer I share:
The flashing of lightning,
On this day, I am grateful for the One who is on my right, my left, before me and behind me. I am grateful that the legacy of St. Patrick is one of grace, of forgiveness and of a changed heart. Today, I bind myself to the One who guides, who leads, who creates and calls me to love as I have been loved. May I see Christ in all I meet, for I am graced to serve.