Leprechauns and Blessings
I wasn’t sure what we would do this St. Patrick’s Day since the leprechauns told us they won’t be coming back.
Each year for the past several years on March 17, while our kids were in school, the leprechauns would come to our house and devise an elaborate scavenger hunt for the children. Rhymed clues, written in an unrecognizable hand remarkably similar to the Tooth Fairy’s and Santa Claus’s, led the children from room to room until at the end they discovered a pile of cheap St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia—a shamrock t-shirt, a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button, a pot of “gold” filled with yellow M&M’s.
I delighted in watching the hunt—the excitement, the stampede from one clue to the next, the way children love anything from Dollar General. The Mommy Leprechaun, whose job is was to compose the rhymes and buy the clues felt less thrilled. So after four years of fun, the leprechauns last year left one final note saying they won’t be back.
So two weeks ago I began wondering, what will happen this year?
That’s when a new book written by Beth Richardson, an acquaintance of mine, landed on my desk: Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me. I think the leprechauns brought it, knowing I would need help.
I’ve been interested in Celtic spirituality for some time. Three years ago I attended a retreat on Celtic spirituality at which Beth was the worship leader. As soon as I heard her read “A Blessing for a Cup of Coffee” I knew we were kindred spirits.
Now on my desk sits her book which includes this and other blessings inspired by the Celtic tradition, blessings that can tutor me in what I want most of all: to see and receive this moment—each moment—as holy, saturated with the love and mercy of the Triune God.
This moment holding a cup of coffee. This moment walking the dog (she has a blessing for that). This moment holding a newborn. This moment, and this one. Each one a sacrament.
Even this moment grading papers? Yes. Beth didn’t write a blessing for that, but I was inspired to write my own.
I’m allowing Beth to become a mentor for me, and if for me, why not for my children on St. Patrick’s day? Because I want nothing more for them as well than to experience this Celtic clarity about God’s presence here and now.
And this Celtic honesty. These blessings don’t avoid pain. “Some days are very hard,” one begins, and can’t we all—children and adults—learn better how to straightforwardly name what we are going through? “May you know that you are loved, / You are held, / You are not alone,” it continues. And I think of my older son’s inevitable middle-school hard days, and I nod. Yes. Learn this.
So this St. Patrick’s Day will be a day of blessing. My wife and I will say with our kids “A Blessing for Breakfast,” and slip the blessing “At the Midday” in their lunchboxes. In the evening we’ll read “Walking the Dog” as they do their least favorite chore, and later the blessing “Night” before heading to bed. For I can think of no better way to end the day with them than with these words:
Bless this house, this pillow, this bed.
May I lie down in your peace and love,
And awake again to be your hands and heart in the world.
I am yours, God of love.
Bless this night.
But I will have to write my own blessing “For the Yellow M&Ms”, because we are going to have those again, leprechauns or not.
The Rev. Dr. L. Roger Owens is associate professor of Christian spirituality and ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and teaches courses in the MDiv, Doctor of Ministry, and Continuing Education programs. Before coming to PTS he served urban and rural churches for eight years in North Carolina as co-pastor with his wife Ginger. He has written multiple books including The Shape of Participation: A Theology of Church Practices which was called “this decades best work in ecclesiology” by The Christian Century and his latest What We Need Is Here: Practicing the Heart of Christian Spirituality.