Leprechauns and Lent


          St. Patrick’s Day, and  today my little leprechaun smiles benignly and rests comfortably in my inner warmth.  A gentle sprite, content to let me be.  Today he even breathes some of his lively spirit into my spirit and lends me a bit of his tireless energy, seeming to delight in the small tasks I can manage.  Today my little “Irish friend” is all charm and spreads his magic through me to let me feel an almost-wholeness, while he quietly hums and twiddles his tiny thumbs.

          But tomorrow may be a very different story!  Tomorrow this little fellow may awaken to a feistiness that will bode trouble for me.  Tomorrow his eye may gleam maliciously as he runs riotously through my system, wreaking havoc wherever his tiny toes touch down.  Tomorrow he may, in the words of Yeats, “leap on to a wall and spin, balancing himself on the point of the hat with his heels in the air.”  And all that mischievous leaping and spinning will set my teeth on edge and send weakening shivers through my system, while he will simply grin with glee.

          Sigh.  The little leprechaun who has taken up residence in my body is the CFS/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) that’s been with me for years.  God knows I have tried taming this little fellow!  With alternative medicines.  With special diets.  With rest and rest and more rest.  With stress management systems.  With exercise plans.  With prayer and meditation.  But all to only little effect.  My little leprechaun has nested himself in my body, and he is not the least bit interested in leaving or in being tamed!

          Many of us, I suspect, have similar little leprechauns bedeviling us in some way—physically, emotionally, or mentally—and there seems to be no way to rid our lives of these feisty little creatures.  And much of the time—thankfully, with modern medical advances, not all the time!—these imps are only slightly tamable!  So what to do?

          Part of the discipline of Lent, it seems to me, is learning to live with the mischievous, pesky, untamable leprechauns in our lives:

  • learning to live with them one day at a time;
  • learning to accept with some measure of grace whatever challenges these annoying little creatures present to us each day;
  • learning to recognize that accompanying us in our difficulties is the One who walked his own difficult road, a road that led to the cross;
  • learning even to experience a certain hallowedness in the limitations our leprechauns impose on us—limitations which can draw us into a deeper awareness of who we are and of who God intends for us to be.

          Not an easy discipline.  But an important one.  And as we work on learning to live with our difficulties, it’s possible that our little leprechauns themselves, with a twinkle in their beady little eyes, just might be able to help us:

  • help us to learn a certain playfulness in response to the arbitrary mischief they spin in our lives; 
  • help us learn to discover paths of wonder and delight, even if we can’t do all we’d like to be able to do, to be all we’d like to be able to be; 
  • help us learn to take their little leprechaun hands and imagine ourselves dancing with them in gratitude for life, life that’s rich and full even though it’s been diminished by their unpredictable mischief.

10 thoughts on “Leprechauns and Lent

  1. Good Morning Friend —–

    So lovely, gentle and so true!!! Hope your week is a good one, in spite of, or because of the Leprachaun’s in you:) Sunny but still so very cold….was about 9 this morning when I came to work……….and still waiting and waiting and waiting…..I’m beginning to think it is Advent and not Lent!!


    MARY HUISMAN Bookstore Manager, The Sacred Page Bookstore ph 616.392.8555 x148 101 East 13th Street, Holland MI 49423-3622 [image: WTS_logo_email.png]

  2. Carol, You’ll remember those occasions in which we have said to one another in a certain jovial spirit, “It doesn’t sound very ssppiritual to me.” I note that the first two disciplines you suggest and all three forms of help you list have no specifically religious, much less Christian reference. I think this is spot on. I’ve become increasingly convinced that just as physical health is not necessarily a function of spiritual health, so psychological health has an important independence. All three forms of health, physical, psychological, and spiritual, have their own logic and their own disciplines, and we should not assume that diligence in one area will automatically compensate for inattention to another.

  3. Thanks, as always Carol. I particularly like your comment about learning “to discover paths of wonder and delight, even if we can’t do all we’d like to be able to do, to be all we’d like to be able to be.” To be human is to be limited, to be mortal. The purpose of life for all is not to do but to be. Sometime doing has a way of obscuring that truth.

    • I beg to differ with your “purpose of life for all” statement somewhat.
      From the Christian perspective we glorify God in the Doing as well as in the Being, as shown by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. There is beauty in both. The poet John Milton speaks to me sweetly to this issue when talents are lodged useless in us because of ill health. “…Doth God exact day labor, light denied? … God does not need either man’s work, or His own gifts; who best bear his mild yoke, they serve Him best … They also serve who only stand and wait.”

      • Margarete, I agree that both doing and being are important ways of living and serving our God. I think Mike’s statement–and my response–want to recognize our worth simply as “being” God’s children, rather than finding our worth in “doing” something. Our culture does place such an emphasis on “doing,” “producing,” and I think now and then we need to step back and just bask in knowing ourselves as God’s beloveds. I’ve always loved, by the way, Milton’s poem written after he went blind. His “leprechaun” was more like a monster, and yet he continued to know his worth–simply in his standing and waiting.

  4. I do so agree. At least my head does! But we live in a culture where worth is so often determined almost exclusively in “doing,” that it’s always a challenge “to be” and let our “doing” simply grow out of that “being.” We all need help here, I think!

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