Posted March 17, 2010
I didn't know the history behind St. Patrick's day until I was an adult. All I
knew was that on that day, everyone was supposed to wear green. Leprechauns
and shamrocks were my only indoctrination. It was all rather silly, but a good excuse
to help the teachers change out classroom decorations.
At last, I learned that St. Patrick was from Britain and had been kidnapped as a 16-year-old boy.
The Irish raiders took him back to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. A shepherd,
he became a devout Christian and sought the Lord during the lonely days and nights.
He claimed to have two revelations from God. He believed God spoke to him in a dream telling
him it was time to leave Ireland. He walked 200 miles to the coast where he found a
ship to take him home. After arriving, he believed God told him in another dream
that he was supposed to be a missionary to the Irish.
As always, it's sometimes difficult to convert nonbelievers. So he mixed in pagan beliefs so
Christianity wouldn't be as hard a pill to swallow. Since the Irish were used to honoring
their gods with fire, St. Patrick incorporated their pagan rituals into his lessons of
Christianity. He superimposed the sun onto the Christian cross because it was a powerful
Irish symbol. I suppose he reasoned the Irish wouldn't accept the simple truth - God sent
his Son and Jesus nailed to two pieces of wood was the simple truth of what it took to save mankind. Not one bonfire, rising sun, or pint of Guinness could do it.
But as usual, humans have to spice up every holiday to make it a little more majestic, a little more
spectacular, with just a little more pizzazz. Dyeing the Chicago River was a wee bit excessive for trying
to get our nation to "go green." Surely overworked teachers in Chicago could have used a bit more
green in their wallets rather than having the money dumped in the river.
But not to rain on someone else's parade, after all I'm part Irish too, I'll let others do it, anonymously of course.
Some comments I've read :
"I am proud of my Irish heritage. I realize it was never about partying and drinking. I thank
God for inspiring St. Patrick to explain the Trinity -Father, Son, Holy Ghost - to the Irish by using
those precious three leaves of the shamrock. And just think, when you find a four leaf clover, that fourth leaf is supposed to be YOU!
"I'm sad that the spirit of the Holy Day about love and family is being drowned in alcohol and excess. Wonderful Irish do not follow the example of the low brow diaspora in America!"
(OUCH! That was directed toward me and my kin.)
"Funny, St. Pat drove out the snakes and transformed Ireland into a land that serves the Lord and now good ole America sent the devil back in the form of drunkeness and overindulgence."
(DOUBLE OUCH! I seriously doubt the devil ever leaves anybody alone for long even with
America hogging his time. He's never kept his demons on a tight leash.)
"Don't kid yourself - it's about Guinness." (Now there's someone who hasn't yet fallen into his drink.)
"The first St. Paddy's I'm actually sober. Thank you Jesus." (Now here's someone who can see past a bonfire and a rising sun.)
And those were just a few comments I read, America taking the blame, however, in recent years, Dublin has been cashing in after they've watched America turn the holiday into a moneymaking scheme and as one person said, 'drinking their skulls off.' Perhaps we could remember that in all things - moderation is key.
And I'm grinning here, but when my pond turns green, I know it's full of scum and I can't wait for a
fresh hard rain to freshen it again. "As water reflects the face, so a man's heart reflects the man."
And when a hard rain won't fix the problem, every now and then, we all could stand a little dredge work.
photo credits to Nam Y. Huh/AP