Ever since I can remember, my family has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with zeal. We wore green, we drank green milk, we ate corned beef and cabbage & Irish Soda Bread from my great-grandma Catherine’s recipe, we listened to Irish music, we marched in parades. I admit that I went through a phase when I was a teenager thinking that this was all a little too corny (especially the expectation to be clad in green), but I am thankfully back to embracing my Irish heritage. In fact, I wore green all week this time. I attended not one, but two St. Patrick’s Day parties, an hosted one of my own. I stood out at the Harrisburg St. Patrick’s Day parade as chunks of ice were falling from the sky. I baked the famed Irish soda bread (and added my own tradition of Guinness brownies). My parents would be proud 🙂
My great-grandma Catherine, from whom I acquired my middle name, emigrated from Ireland when she was about 19 years old. I grew up hearing stories about her perseverance through hard times, her prayerfulness, her love for her family, her faith. Her legacy has been passed down in my family.
I’ve been to Northern Ireland several times now, once to the town where my great-grandma was born, and I feel a deep connection to that place. It is a feeling that is hard for me to explain, this fascination with Irish culture. I resonate the themes from Celtic Christianity, such as the connection to nature, and the view that there is no separation between the sacred and secular.
And so, on this day that marks the celebration of Irish heritage for many, I leave you with a poem written by Derek Mahon, an Irish poet, from a book called Voices & Poetry of Ireland:
Everything Is Going to Be All Right
How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.