Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you’re wearing a bit o’ the green. It’s said, on St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is a little bit Irish. St. Patty, as some call him, is known as the patron saint of Ireland, and is credited with having banished all the snakes from the island. Of course, that last part is a bit of mythology to make a gesture toward the real greatness of Ireland’s patron saint. There is no evidence of post-glacial Ireland ever having any snakes on its soil. Sometimes, we add bits and pieces to a story to embellish and make a particular character larger than life. I’m not sure that helps or hurts, but its a fun exercise trying to separate myth from fact.
What I want to share with you today has to do with what we leave behind. As I told you in last week’s Wednesday Word, I’m in the process of downsizing and moving. Its a lot more difficult task than it seems at first glance. Sorting through years and years of stuff, deciding what to keep and what to leave behind. No one can do that task for you either, it takes you laying eyes and heart to each object and deciding if it needs to go, or be left behind.
As we get closer to a time when we will have beaten back this dreaded pandemic and virus we’ve been living through, many of us are chomping at the bit to get back to normal. What does that even mean? When the day comes, and everyone has been vaccinated and the infection rate has dropped below a certain threshold, does it mean we return to living and being just like before the Coronavirus took hold?
It might be time to sort through our behaviors, actions, words, thoughts and beliefs, and decide what we take with us, and what we leave behind.
A lot of what we’ve lived through has exposed some failings we have just been living with, some attitudes and behaviors that were under the surface but have reared their ugly heads. Do we really want to go back to those acts and deeds?
One of the things I think we have learned clearly is, the importance of human to human touch. We’ve had to quarantine and socially distance during this past year. That’s been very hard on many of us. There is something in the human touch that is comforting, is consoling, is soul-satisfying. Yes, we can text each other and call each other. Yes, we can even zoom and/or facetime each other. These are no substitutes though, for the touch of another human being. God created and intended for us to live in community, touching and embracing one another. The Holy Spirit in us needs to be in touch with the Holy Spirit in those we care for and love. I would say we would want to leave behind the indifference that seemed to permeate so much of our lives pre-pandemic. Indifference to what others need in their lives to help them through whatever difficulties they may face.
Another thing I believe we’ve learned, is how important kindness and graciousness is. We have seen some very ugly scenarios play out in the last year. Racial strife, brutality, riots, mayhem, maiming and killing. People have been on edge and that usually brings out the worst in most of us. But this meanness and narcissim that has been on full display in this past year is frightening. More frightening, is the fact that most of what we saw was already present below the surface. The excuse of political and societal unrest just brought it to the fore. When we go back to normal, I pray we are able to leave the worst of our behaviors in the past. I pray we are able to talk and interact with one another in not just a civil way, but in a kind way, in a gracious way. You don’t have to think like me, or believe like me, or even look or sound like me, in order for me to show you the kindness Jesus has shown me. You don’t have to accept my perspective or my opinion, for me to be gracious to you when we meet. Real love, the love of Jesus, doesn’t demand anything, it gives everything.
St. Patty’s Day is a wonderful day to wear a bit o’ the green and remember there lived a man who devoted his life to bringing the love of Jesus to a tiny green isle. Nothing more, nothing less. We can leave behind the thing about the snakes, it doesn’t make his life and sacrifice any more important. He loved the people, that is the only point worth remembering.
When the day comes, and it is coming friends, when we can gather together, I will never take for granted touching and hugging you. I will never take for granted how sweet and kind you speak to me. I will never take for granted the love and care I’ve been shown. I want my post-pandemic life to exemplify my care for all God’s children. I want my post-pandemic life to show a love without boundaries, a love which touches heart and hand alike, a love that embraces without exception.
Love and Peace,