Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saint Patrick's Day Shadows

Celtic crossThis is an up-and-down day for me. Already had two teary spells and the day is still young. Well, youngish…the sun is still making its way across the sky.

St. Patrick’s Day…funny how, as you get older, holidays begin to assume more shaded, bittersweet overtones. Growing up with a Dublin mother and lots of Irish nuns fresh over from the Old Place, I loved St. Paddy’s Day. We always went to Mass. Mother sniffed derisively at the green beer and drunkness of American celebrations. In *her* youth, the pubs in Dublin were closed on March 17th. In Savannah, we went to the wonderful St. Patrick’s Day parade. In South Boston, I watched the festivities for several years with my former in-laws. It’s hazy now: I remember the formal parlors in the three decker homes, and the amazing amounts of beer and politicians. It was a noisy, happy place, though we always went back home to the suburbs before nightfall.

Here in the blue hills of Viriginia, March 17th is the day to plant potatoes and peas. I didn’t prepare the vegetable bed yesterday because of the lashing rain, and now it’s windy and cold. Methinks I’ll commit a venial sin and wait till the spring solstice. Besides, I have to move a raspberry cane I planted in that plot “temporarily” last September.

There isn’t any Irish sentiment where we live. Just as well. It’s become a sad holiday now. My Irish mother is gone, my lovely colleen, Shelagh, is gone, and — worst of all - a friend of the future Baron, a boy with the most wonderful Irish name - killed himself at school on this date several years ago. The fB and I dug up his grandmother’s crucifix and a tall candle to burn in their memory today.

Meanwhile, I offer you a Celtic blessing I found some years ago. I framed it then, and now I use it for this St. Patrick’s Day:

May God’s tenderness shine through you,
to warm all who are hurt and lonely.
May the blessing of gentleness be with you.

May the God of Peace be with you,
stilling the heart that hammers
with fear and doubt and confusion.
And may your peace cover
those who are troubled or anxious.

May the God of Mercy be with you, forgiving you.
May your readiness to forgive calm the fears
and deepen the trust of those who have hurt you.

May the God of strength be with you,
holding you in strong-fingered hands.
May you be a sacrament of strength
to those whose hands you hold.

May the God of Gentleness be with you,
caressing you with sunlight and rain and wind.



At 11:43 PM, Blogger Lemon Lime Moon said...

Maybe for your dear mother and the others St Patrick's day was also bittersweet, but for your sake they kept it up and made it what you remember it to be.
Maybe that is a legacy for you to continue?
To keep the day with a merry heart for the sake of all the ones who went on before?
Just a thought. I read you often and never have commented but, just wanted to share. Hope you soon find yourself with a light heart.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...

Thanks for reading (and commenting).

Here's my son's elegaic poem written to his dead friend. Perhaps it explains some of the shadows:

I cannot write a fitting epitaph
For you, my friend; I fear that I would not
Do justice to the sad and lonely path
That culminated in a single shot.
No one else could share the load you bore,
No one could drive the demons from your mind
Because you never let us past the door
Where all the secret monsters were confined.
So what's to say, my friend? I wish I knew
The words to use so that I could explain
The torture that no comfort could undo,
The only way you had to end the pain.

Instead, I seek a passage underground
Like Orpheus, on the road of endless night
To Hades, nightmare figures all around
Consumed by flame and shadow's hellish might.
And soon I reach the wall of ancient clay,
Those bricks you fought with fists of dust and ash
But never broke, and never found what lay
Beyond the wall, on that forgotten path.
And here I'll leave those things I have of yours
To mark this spot--a shrine, I guess you'd say.
For when I think of you, I think of doors,
The walls we build to lock ourselves away.
But now I have to let this heartache go,
And say farewell from where I am below:
"This isn't much--and yet I've done my best;
I hope your final journey brought you rest."

At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, the fB has your gift of words. Second, Spring is an ambivalent season. I love the pastel colors of new growth, but I don't find the robustness of the other seasons.

Those of us with Celt in our past have a different sense of the world. It does not always occur all the time, but it opens us to the flow of life and the seasons. It links us to life at a level more fundamental than thought. It makes music in a minor key have more depth and meaning than one major.

Some part of us grew up with shadows, whether conscious or not, and when they become real, rather than destroying us, they are an old enemy in new guise that we face and go on.

St. Patrick was most eloquent. Even 10 weeks late it applies.


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