In what has become an annual tradition and also in the spirit of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater (by which I mean green beer, does a more apt analogy exist?), I give you a poem that has had a lifelong influence on me:
Patrick’s Rune, origin anonymous, translated by James Clarence Mangan.
At Tara to-day in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By God’s almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.
I’ll never be able to get behind missionary work when conversion is the goal and so I’ll never with a whole heart be able to celebrate the traditional legacy of St. Patrick (although credit is due for his efforts to incorporate Druidic traditions). Beyond any misgivings, I am divinely inspired by any image of the light that the darkness has not, shall not overcome.
I discovered “Patrick’s Rune” as a child in my first reading of The Swiftly Tilting Planet, from Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet. The poem is woven through the entire book so it’s impossible to miss and it starts with my name so my attraction to it was inevitable.
I like that the assumption of the poem is that all of nature is powered by goodness. I believe this to be true. I like that the poem does not pretend that evil does not exist because we also know this to be true.
I’ll need you to remind me of this. I’ll remind you too.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Come celebrate with us.