Saturday, March 17, 2012

Of St. Patrick, Leprechauns, And The Wearing O’ The Green: An Irish Tale.

Okay, so I don’t know how tall St. Patrick was, but I’m sure he wasn’t a leprechaun. As a priest, he probably didn’t look very green, unless he had a bad stomach bug. And he wasn’t even born in Ireland. So what’s the story?
St. Patrick was born in England and at the age of sixteen he was captured, made a slave and forced to work as a herdsman in Ireland. Six years later he supposedly “heard a voice”  telling him to run away, so he did. And so, back to England he went. A few years later he became a bishop and heard another voice telling him to go back to Ireland so, of course, he did. He converted many pagans, including noble and royal women, to Christianity, convincing them to become nuns. It’s interesting to note that in those early days of Christianity it was a bit easier to become a saint. In the first century not every saint was canonized by the pope. All you had to do was be considered very holy and, as in St. Patrick case, have your local diocese do the canonization. He has never been formally canonized by any pope. 
 Probably the most well known legend of St. Patrick is the one where he drove the snakes out of Ireland, but I question this story, as there are still plenty of lawyers slithering about. (Sorry, but mention snakes, and a lawyer joke is bound to surface.) The truth is Ireland never had snakes to begin with. Some believe this may have been symbolic, as the Druids donned serpent tattoos on their arms.
Another legend is about how Patrick taught the pagans about Christianity by using a shamrock’s leaves to represent the holy trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the stem as the one God. This is from where the expression “The wearing o’ the green" comes. Shamrocks are worn on lapels during the feast of St. Patrick.
So this covers St. Patrick and how he came to be in Ireland, and the wearing of green...but leprechauns?  Leprechauns are fairy shoemakers with magical powers who hide their money in pots of gold at the ends of rainbows and love to dance.
“Because of their love of dancing they (the Fae) will constantly need shoes.” – William Butler Yeats
 How do leprechauns fit in to the St. Patrick scenario? The fact is they don’t.
All Christian holidays have fused the secular with the non-secular, and in modern times, St. Patrick’s Day has come to represent pride in the Irish culture in general. Now all things Irish are celebrated. So, kiss the Blarney stone if you want to be a silver-tongued devil, drink your green beer, and wear your “kiss me I’m Irish” button. All are welcome, even the leprechauns…if you can find them. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
 “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back…” –Irish Blessing

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lessons For My Daughter

Mothers teach their daughters how to become young women by example. There are simple things like teaching them to braid their hair or tie their shoelaces, but there are other lessons that are more complex than elementary hygiene and safety. I am not an expert on how to live the perfect life, (If there is such a thing.) but as I have aged, my experiences and observations of others have taught me that there are behaviors capable of leading you in the direction to becoming a happy, compassionate person. So, to my daughter I would say the following.

You are an intelligent young woman. Do not “dumb yourself down”, or compromise your values to fit in with the crowd. Caving-in to others’ opinions just because they are popular shows a lack of respect for yourself. Examine all sides before deciding what is right for you. Knowledge is empowering and individuality makes you more interesting.

Do not let others define you or determine your capabilities.  Only you know your own heart and strength.

You are beautiful for who you are. Don’t let a societal version of beauty make you question your value. Everyone is different and is exquisite in their own way.

We are all human, and as such, make mistakes. It is a sign of character to admit when you are wrong. Saying I’m sorry can bring healing and a sense of peace.

Love is something you give, not demand. You cannot force someone to love you. Do not expect someone else to make you happy, that is something you have to do for yourself. Sharing your happiness with someone else is a bonus.

Most importantly, it is never too late to follow your passion. Life gives us obstacles. You just need to learn to jump higher.

*Thursday, March 8, 2012, International Women's Day.*

Monday, March 5, 2012


"And now for something completely different..."

Look at her just sitting there. The inborn arrogance emanates from her delicate, up-turned face. Her contempt should not surprise me, as I encounter it daily. She would claim no responsibility for what had just occurred. Why should she? In all her years, guilt and accountability have been alien experiences.

She glances down at the chaos laid out at her feet before returning her attention to me. Her gaze reveals neither remorse, nor compassion for the injured party; instead, it conveys annoyance. A familiar twitch suggests that impatience has permeated her entire body. Today, as always, the responsibility would be laid entirely upon my shoulders.

I begin to consider the possibility that the fault is mine. After nearly sixteen years in her service I should have anticipated what could happen. She didn’t plan this, and when all is cleaned up, no resentment toward me would linger. It is only a perceived arrogance which I feel. In actuality, she is helpless and dependant upon me for her basic needs. How could I blame her? She had no way of knowing that her actions would cause me pain.

As I massage my twisted ankle, I regard the situation in a softer light. I will have to sweep the broom underneath the fridge, as some of her cat food had slid under during the spill. I answer her insistent meow.

“Yes Cleo, I will get your food in the dish this time…as long as you stay out from under my feet!”