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Snakes in the Grass

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! Saint Patrick died on this day in 461 A.D. and became the patron Saint of Ireland for his missionary work in Ireland. Following his death, many legends and myths grew around his evangelical work among the Druid population of the island. It is said that the four-leaf clover was how he taught the Trinity to the locals and thus became a part of the lore around Saint Patrick.

All I was taught in school was that Saint Patrick was responsible for driving all the snakes out of Ireland. I was quite disappointed when I learned there were never snakes in Ireland to begin with. However, the snake represented the devil and all kinds of evil. Metaphorically, he drove the “snakes”, the Druids and paganism, from Ireland. That makes sense except that there are “snakes” in Ireland just like everywhere else in the world. That’s unfortunate but true…

Saint Patrick lived a difficult life as a Christian. He suffered enslavement to a Druid warlord and later escaped back to his beloved Britain but chose willingly to return to Ireland to spread the gospel. There he was threatened with death, survived several assassination attempts, more enslavement, and continued ridicule and harassment. Still, he chose to remain and be faithful to his spiritual calling.

I often wonder how he could have continued in the face of such resistance – how he could have continued to be kind to his enemies. I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness and what it means to truly be kind. It’s difficult in the best of times but even more so when faced with the current political climate, deep divisions, Christian nationalism and yes, road rage (I’m talking about myself). I strive to live kindly towards all, but I often fall woefully short. What does it mean to be kind to even my “enemies”?

I’ve spent many hours researching what kindness is all about and how to exercise kindness (not “niceness” which is a whole other story…) in my life. I found this little gem in today’s reading:

“No matter how misguided some opinions may be, I do not have to be the purveyor and filterer of all the truth in the world, and sometimes my inside voice needs to stay right where it is: inside”

– Bruce Reyes-Chow, “In Defense of Kindness – Why It Matters, How It Changes Our Lives, and How It Can Save the World

It dawned on me that the majority of the problems in my life are the result of speaking aloud what should remain as my inside voice. I tend to be an open book. While vulnerability and real communication is something we all could use more of, striking the balance between our “inside” and “outside” voice is something I struggle with.

I have to leave for the farm in a bit so I’m asking God to help me watch the inside voice today. If you struggle with your inside voice coming out at some inappropriate times I’d love to hear how you’re learning to keep it inside. I’d love to hear specifics about how you treat those who often make the inside voice go crazy because quite frankly, there’s a lot of snakes out there…

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