Happy St. Patrick’s Day
As a boy growing up in Savannah, Georgia, I knew St. Patrick’s Day as a major event. The city went all out for a day of great celebration … parades, center lines of the route painted green, the Savannah River dyed a deep green, concerts, festivals, and worship services in all manner of churches. And watch out if you did not have on a green item of clothing! Never mind that the day almost always falls in the season of Lent, my home town was a party town.
Other than that, I knew little about the Patron Saint of Ireland. Over the years, I’ve learned a bit more about him and why he seems to have captured the imagination of so many people around the world. Born in the late fourth century on the northwest coast of Britain, at sixteen he was captured and sold into slavery by Irish slave-traders. Five years later he escaped, returned to Britain, was educated as a Christian, and took holy orders. In his early forties he returned to Ireland, this time as a missionary bishop, laboring for thirty years to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.
Patrick serves as a symbol of forgiveness and reconciliation for all of us. Like King David, he was called from being a shepherd (Patrick’s duty as a slave) to being a leader of a nation. Like Joseph, he went from slavery to leadership, caring for those who enslaved him and those who had sold him alike.
Whatever else you do on St. Patrick’s Day this year, spend some of your time forgiving those who have wronged you and seeking reconciliation with those with whom you are estranged.