Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!
I’m not Irish. As far as I know, I have no Irish blood coursing through my veins since most of my ancestors were English or German.
But there’s just something about St. Patrick’s Day that appeals to me and it’s not drinking green beer!
Maybe it’s just the wearin’ o’ the green. Green is such a cheerful color, reminding me of spring – refreshing, lovely spring – when my yard magically turns from a dull brown to a deliciously vibrant green and when blossoms appear on greening trees and hints of green sturdy stalks of flowers poke through the hard, bleak ground in promise of more colors bursting forth. Yeah, I like green!
When I was a youngster still in school, we always wore clothing in shades of green on March 17 because if you didn’t, you would get pinched. I have no idea why. Later when thoughts turned more to cute boys than cute green shirts, I can remember wearing a button with this inscription, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” on this day. Again I have no idea why.
As an adult, I never forget when it’s St. Patrick’s Day, even when my mind’s a little groggy. Twenty-five years ago today, I briefly awoke from anesthesia after major surgery and saw my husband and my pastor (dressed in a bright green sports jacket) standing beside my bed. What were the first words I uttered? “You wore green for St. Patrick’s Day,” addressed to my pastor. And then I promptly went back to sleep.
For some reason, the story behind St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, intrigues me. It seems no one is sure where the legend and reality meet, and many stories about the man are considered just that – stories.
But here are the facts. Born in Britain, Patrick, son of wealthy estate owners, was captured by wild Irish raiders in his youth. Held captive in Ireland for years, he turned to his faith for solace. After he escaped and returned to Britain, he believed an angel visited him in a dream telling him to venture back to Ireland as a missionary, which is exactly what he did once he was ordained as a priest. He died on March 17 and is credited for evangelizing Ireland for Jesus Christ.
I came across a prayer called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” Apparently, parts of the prayer ask for God’s protection and that’s why it is called a breastplate, an important piece of armor worn to shield the heart. One section of this prayer strikes a chord with me:
“Christ be with me, Christ be within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”
I don’t know if St. Patrick actually wrote this prayer, but I do know placing Jesus Christ in all aspects of my life – each and every day – in the very heart of my being and in the very heart of my activity gives me strength to face whatever comes. My life is so much more focused when Jesus is the breastplate in my suit of armor.
As I contemplate this today on Page 17, Chapter 3, in my book of Opportunity, my prayer is that if you don’t already wear this “breastplate” you’ll consider getting to know Him. My wish for you this day, whether you commemorate a saint or not, is this Irish blessing:
“May God give you…For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer.”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!