Every year I have to “google” St. Patrick to again rediscover what you have to do to have millions of people drink green beer in your honor thousands of years after you are gone. Why do I care enough to do this on an annual basis? It is because a small part of me wants to know what I need to do to have millions of people hoisting a cup of anything in my honor a few millennium (okay, let’s be honest, I would be honored if it was even a few hundred years) after I have left this world.
So what did he do to deserve this honor? Was he the bartender of all bartenders? Was he the maker of green cloth? Maybe a shamrock harvester? No, he risked his life trying to convert hundreds of pagan Irish to Christianity. This, after being enslaved in his youth in the same country he was now trying to save.
I think about that boy, at sixteen, enslaved and sent to work in the fields, alone, scared, all liberties taken away. Then, after hearing what he believes was the voice of God, he escaped and made it safely home. What happens next separates the men from the saints. He honored the voice of God and went home and then honored the voice of God and went back to the land that had enslaved him.
Six years he was a slave. Can you imagine what it was like to get home? He was safe. He had the chance of being normal, to get a job, get married, have a few kids and never be heard from again. That would have been expected. That would have been easy. But, he was called in his heart back to Ireland as an ordained bishop to save his persecutors. I would have said no way. I have had enough bad things happen in my life. I have shouldered enough trouble. I want normal, God, so pick someone else. I’m good where I am, but thanks for thinking of me.
Patrick went against family, sometimes the church, his own natural instincts, creature comforts, personal safety, financial security, the sure thing, rational thinking, common sense, any sense, and went into the darkness hoping to be a light.
And that is why there is a world-wide acknowledgment of his life on the anniversary of his death.
Who is going to remember you a hundred years, a thousand years from now, if you ignore the calling and instead choose family consensus, creature comforts, financial security, the sure thing? Is there a darkness you are supposed to lighten but you are too afraid of the dark?
I have let all of these things silence the calling of my life. It took a form of enslavement for me to finally hear the voice that I believe was God and honor it. I was afraid. I was overwhelmed. I wondered if shining my light was worth giving up all of today’s definitions of success.
But like Patrick, I believed. I believed in the voice. I believed in the calling. I believed in the cause. So, I did it afraid.
I am not sure if I will have parades, cups raised, or color coded fans celebrating in my honor a thousand years from now. I do know the only way I have a shot of it is by stepping out into my calling, owning it, and making the hard choices, rather than living the easy life, because every holiday we have in honor of a person is in honor of someone who did exactly that.