Happy Leprechaun Day!
Er, i mean St. Patrick's Day!
I don't know about you, but i personally have never really known who St. Patrick was and why we were honoring him on March 17th. I never grew up in any religious institution so such things have been out of my peripheral. I, and I assume most others as well (though i may be totally ignorant here) associate St. Patrick's Day with wearing green (or being pinched), Leprechauns and beer.
So i did a little light history reading this morning to familiarize myself with this patron saint of Ireland. After all I am a sixteenth Irish or something like that. Turns out, March 17th is his supposed day of passing sometime in around 490 A.D.. He was the son of a wealthy family in Britain (meaning St. Patrick was not Irish!) who was captured and brought to Ireland and imprisoned for several years. While imprisoned, he worked as a shepherd and spent much time alone in nature, and it was through this back-to-nature life of solitude that helped him find God. Messages and voices spoke to him in his dreams and he followed their guidance, eventually becoming a Christian missionary in Ireland. History.com has several short videos on St. Patrick that will make you the go-to authority at your St. Patty's gathering, like this short, animated "Bet You Didn't Know" one.
What I find most compelling about Patrick is that he is assumed to have been the creator of the celtic cross, the Christian cross with the powerful Irish symbol, the sun, in the middle. St. Patrick, as well as many other missionaries and leaders at that time, understood that the old nature-based pagan religions were firmly imbedded in the cultural heritage of a people and a place. To convert prospective followers to the new religion, assimilating venerated symbols into Christian ideology would be important to their success. And so we have the celtic cross, the Christmas tree and many other Christian-usurped, originally pagan emblems. It is my belief that all major religions and spiritual practices have at their core the same ultimate Truths, and it is telling to me that symbols of nature and the original religions have sustained and survived through generations.
Nature has always been a source of tranquility, peace, inspiration and spiritual communion, and this Spring, when the sun begins its course northward and the buds burst on tree limbs, I too will honor the beautiful world we live in and remind myself that life indeed renews itself. We, too, can renew ourselves along with the natural rhythms.
It is a great time to be positive and overcome obstacles, so, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, i give you Stuart Smalley with a special appearance by Chris Farley!