More Than Roses
Today, the feast day of St. Patrick, I am reminded of what Thomas Cahill wrote in his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization. Speaking of St. Patrick’s revolutionary vision of God’s presence in the world, Cahill says, “This sense of the world as holy, as the Book of God—as a healing mystery, fraught with divine messages—could never have risen out of Greco-Roman civilization, threaded with the profound pessimism of the ancients and their Platonic suspicion of the body as unholy and the world as devoid of meaning.” Patrick, a bridge between Greco-Roman and Irish traditions, synthesized a new way of looking at the world, advocating part introspection and part extrospection, but always seeking God and the good regardless of what a first glance might show. It is easy to boil this wisdom down into the clichéd exhortation “stop and smell the roses,” but this Lent I encourage everyone, myself included, to look at Patrick’s vision a little more closely.
Changing your default worldview from cynicism to wonder does not and will not happen overnight, but requires effort. It is not enough to look at a moody student who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of reading silently and accept that that person is just like that, or to shrug off a coworker’s chronic lateness instead of flying into a rage. Whether these examples apply to you or not, there are occasions in every walk of life to view frustrating situations as a chance to see wonder in the world. This does not mean that you should ignore problematic situations or people, but that it is possible to see the healing mystery of the world in the most unlikely of places.
Lent provides a perfect opportunity not only to take a deeper look at ourselves but also at others and the world around us. Stop or don’t stop, but don’t forget that there is more to God’s mysterious presence in the world than roses.
Appointed readings for today: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-28, Psalm 105:16-22, Matthew 21:33-43