Friday, March 4, 2011

Story Bible Moms: Praying with St. Patrick

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I am reflecting on some of the writings of St. Patrick for March's devotionals. This week's is from what his probably his best-known writing, a hymn referred to as The Breastplate. During a time of persecution, Patrick used this prayer as a guard (hence the "breastplate") against his would-be enemy.

As is typical in Celtic spirituality, nature figures strongly into the scheme of things. While this is a lesson we tend to forget, Patrick is much like his psalmist predecessors in invoking the works of nature - the works of God's hand - when speaking to God.

So here is a portion of St. Patrick's Breastplate:

I bind myself today to the virtue of Heaven,
In light of Sun,
In brightness of Snow
In splendour of Fire,
In speed of Lightning,
In swiftness of Wind,
In depth of Sea,
In stability of Earth,
In compactness of Rock.

I bind myself today to God's Virtue to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's Word to speak to me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me,
Against snares of demons,
Against seductions of vices,
Against lusts of nature,
Against every one who wishes ill to me,
Afar and a near,
Alone and in a multitude.

I almost feel like this speaks for itself, and I don't really have anything to add. But I guess I can say that the line that speaks most loudly to be is "God's eye to look before me." It seems to me like I've lived most of my life seeking to follow God, which is a daunting task. It's like of like putting on a blindfold and saying, "Okay, God, tell me how many steps to take before I turn." Again and again, I'm reminded of the saying, "We make plans and God laughs."

This can be really frustrating, especially when I'm really proud of my plans, or have spent a lot of time in the details. It's sort of like when Hannah wants to play blocks, and I construct and really cool castle with towers and a moat, and her great delight is in kicking the whole thing over, just so she can yell, "Mama build a tower and Hannah knock it down!!!"

Now I don't think God fells my plans just for the fun of it; rather it is because my plans weren't the right ones in the first place. The truth is, it can be a bitter pill to swallow. But as Patrick so poetically reminds us, we trust in God's eye to look before us. God knows what's happening down the road, when we have no clue. God sees a picture bigger than we can fathom. God isn't a two-year-old, kicking down our beautiful castles for fun. God is looking ahead of us, guiding us around roadblocks we can't see, making sure that in our blindfolded stumbling, we don't fall into a hole.

I encourage you to read Patrick's prayer again. What lines stick out to you? Where do you see God in nature? Which aspect of God is present in your life this week?

1 comment:

  1. This remains one of my favorite posts that you've shared with us.


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