I hope you've had a lovely 17th March! The weather was glorious here today, and legend tells us that this must be because St Patrick has turned the stone! Expect a fabulous summer therefore...
On this day last year we knew that we were about to enter something that would be called a Lockdown. The two most spoken phrases in our house were to be: "the new normal" and "we'll just do what we're told". I've just had a look back to my St Patrick's Day post from last year to see what I was thinking then. I remembered how struck I had been that Patrick had been forced to self-isolate for a whole six years as a slave on what is a very windy, very muddy little hill not so far from here. I remembered feeling inspired by his dedication to praying frequently, all day and all night, as that time brought him deeper into faith. I remembered thinking how wonderful it would be to use this time shut away from the world to do just that.
What I hadn't remembered was saying this: "I even think that these weeks will bring us closer to others as well. We can, as so many are saying now, use our multitudinous communication technologies to communicate with each other." Now, I have certainly not used this year as I could have done prayer-wise. Like the seeds that fell on rocky ground,my joy has too often fallen away when trouble and persecution came. But. I am enormously grateful for the friendships that have not only been maintained, but even deepened* by regular video calls and Zoom break-out rooms, and walks and garden cuppas when the summer restrictions allowed.
I was reading through Patrick's story again last night, feeling all wistful about having to leave the safe pastures behind. What struck me this year was that after all that time alone and praying (and not lounging about making sour dough and reading Hilary Mantel) God told Patrick to get up and go out and his ship was ready, two hundred miles away.
So that's what I'm taking from my patron saint this year. The time for quiet reflection is coming to an end, and the ship is ready to set sail towards The Other Side. I'm going to try to be courageous like Patrick, obedient like Patrick, and faith-full like Patrick.
It's time to arise!