Tomorrow, many will be "celebrating" Saint Patrick's Day with corned beef and cabbage, wearing green and drinking copious amounts of green brew. Not any thing wrong with that, I like corned beef and cabbage, green is one of my favorite colors, but I do draw the line on consuming anything that is artificially made green.
I celebrate Saint Patrick's Day being grateful for Celtic Spirituality and for the wholistic approach that they bring to faith. While it is difficult to separate the man from the myth, Patrick was at the very least a diamond in the rough. His education was lacking and haunted his ministry as evidenced in his Confessions. He was a slave and ran away only to be called back by God to his place of enslavement.
Celtic Spirituality has a blessing for everything: for the fire that provides warmth and energy for cooking, for the home, for the hearth, for the field, for the plow, for all aspects of life: sickness and health, life and death, seasons as they come and go. From the moment one awakens, to the moment one falls asleep there are blessings and prayers to be said and shared.
In the book Celtic Blessings and Prayers, Making All Things Sacred, Brendan O'Malley writes, "The purpose and effect of a blessing over any object or activity, person or circumstance is not so much to alter the symbol or inner life of its reality: it is to thank God for the gift of its existence and use, and to offer that use back to him."
In our current culture, there appears to be far more curses shared, than blessings. Hateful words are hurled in order to try and create a reality that may or may benefit all. Sound bites are offered in order to provoke a reaction as opposed to creating dialogue and deepening understanding. Shouts, angry faced mobs drive any debate on any issue. Cursing seems to to be the order of the day and I long to hear a word of blessing, of hope, of faith.
I wonder what might happen if in the midst of the Saint Patrick's Day festivities people "blessed" one another. What kind of celebration might bring more light and hope and faith when people are blessed for their struggle to understand, blessed in their journey, blessed in their differing life situations and blessed as beloved children of God.
So I offer a portion of Saint Patrick's Breastplate as a blessing. Attribute to Patrick, but used throughout the ages may it's words be a blessing:
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to life before me,
God's shield to protect me.
With that blessing, I am grace to serve.