Spirit of St. Patrick

January 17, 2008

Many legends attributed to St. Patrick remain unverified. As a youth, he fell victim to slavery. His work as a herdsman endured 6 years during which time he prayed daily. At age 22, a divine voice directed him to escape his captors via ship. He fled and successfully traveled to a port 200 miles away where he boarded a ship and returned home to his family. Patrick remains best known for driving the snakes out of Ireland. However, modern research reveals that snakes didn't even exist in Ireland at this time. This folklore probably refers to the symbolic snake (or serpent), the symbol of Druidism. Patrick lived almost 1000 years prior to the setting of the Blarney Stone, yet it continues to evoke a light-hearted practice for the Irish and non-Irish alike and is, for some reason, associated with St. Patrick's Day.

Patrick died on March 17, 493 after he spent the latter part of his life ministering in Northern Ireland. Nonetheless, his impact on Christianity resulted in a worldwide observation. Whether we take a moment to reflect on this good man's work, or celebrate in our own way, the feast day of St. Patrick allows us to visit a few symbols and ponder their significance.

Snakes - what we fear
The symbolic snake causes the heebie-jeebies for many of us just as much as a physical snake. What represents the snakes in your life? Examine the demons you need to expel from your psyche. Real or imagined, the effect remains the same: The things you fear the most, control you. When you focus your attention on fear, the fuel in your think-tank then provides the impetus which propels that fear into action. When you live in fear, it consumes your thoughts as you use self-preservation to search for ways to avoid the dreaded outcome or to circumvent it.

We think, over-think and look for a way out. These thoughts originate as self-protective measures by examining the multitude of possible outcomes and purport to help in decision making. However these "worst-case scenarios" evolve from a passing thought to a request that the Universe give you exactly what you concentrate on. Spirit says, "You must really want it, because that's all you're thinking about." The so-called "self-fulfilling prophecy" results from truly our own creation - when we abdicate our power to the fear, it obediently responds by showing up in our lives.

You see that which you fear, all around you. When you look for a snake, everything that wiggles - from a dog-tail to a plate of spaghetti - reminds you of a snake. Rarely do we consider a snake-free environment. In fact, denying your fears or considering the opposite (a positive resolution), proves more difficult than obsessing about the negative. Conversely, when you affirm what you really want in your life, life responds, accordingly. While St. Patrick drove out the proverbial snakes, perhaps your most heroic effort would be to not think of snakes in the first place. What do you really want?

Blarney stone - what we believe
St. Patrick lived well before the institution of the Blarney Stone. In 1446, the block of bluestone was secured in place on the top story of the Castle of Blarney beneath the battlements. Since then, tales of the stone's origination and movement throughout the world, as well as its powers, grew into legend. While the origins of the tradition of "kissing the Blarney Stone" vary considerably, each year thousands of tourists visit the castle to test the superstition's truth.

In short, Blarney, (somewhat colloquialized into the American term "baloney"), means "the ability to influence and coax with fair words and soft speech without giving offense." In short, the kisser receives the gift of eloquence. Fortunately, we don't rely on this practice in order to create an articulate life. But what we believe (with or without a kiss) empowers us just the same. The ability to which we express ourselves speaks loudly to others our sense of self-respect. We use our words to interact with others, to convey our thoughts and feelings. The impression we make formulates largely from our ability to communicate.

Turning inward, how effectively does our self talk represent our self-esteem? When you choose often-used words of degradation (I'm such a loser) you dismiss the "blarney" and eventually transform your negativity into the truth about yourself. How great it would be to kiss a stone and suddenly speak well of yourself! Instead, we must carefully and deliberately watch our words - those which we use with others and those by which we identify ourselves.

Green - who we are
The color green, forever associated with the holiday, appears in many forms for St. Patrick's Day. From the unappealing green bagels, to the Chicago River dyed green, to practically everyone wearing green clothing or accessories, it represents a celebration of the spirit. Parades and parties, Irish music in beer halls and Irish-for-the-night taverns, emerge as expected traditions each year. For this one day and night, everyone is Irish, whether your heritage says so or not.

The original color associated with Patrick, however, was blue. But since his long association with the shamrock, the color green evolved into the representative color. Patrick taught about the Christian trinity using the 3 leaves of the shamrock and his followers often wore one on a lapel to symbolize their belief in both the religion and of Patrick.

You may pretend to be Irish for one night, but who you really are, underneath the wearing-o-the-green, stays constant. Apart from the revelry of the holiday, you look for ways, each day to celebrate life and enjoy the company friends and strangers alike.

As you walk through the countryside of life, take time, just for a moment, to reflect on one simple man who continues to make a difference in the world some 1500 years later. How will you make an impact? How will you be remembered? History will determine your contribution to the world, along with the memory of your descendants. But today, pay attention to your fears, listen to how you express yourself and remember who are. After all, it's your Lucky Day!

1022 words

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