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Father, the hour has come. John 17:1

Like a room filled with seasoned quilters, their needles keeping time with their stories, messes of tree sparrows sputter, peep, and shrill skirting the budding branches of the mature verbena shrub in front of us. Around its base, clusters of daffodil blades promise splashes of yellow. I’m perched upon a guardrail along the asphalt path, my chest heaving, while my caregiver keeps an eye on me. Despite the difficulty of these short walks, my diseased lungs benefit from the stretching.

Then, it’s time to start moving again. With my caregiver steadying my left forearm, my cane in my right hand, we walk in tandem along the road in my neighborhood. Above us, the Delph blue sky exalts with clarity, while sunrays toast our backs. Yards have been scraped of winter’s indiscriminate trashing, flowerbeds cleared for blooming. Mindful of gumballs or other tree debris, I focus upon taking the next step; when a clean space opens before me, I latch onto the curving line of the asphalt that helps maintains my balance. My caregiver senses when a pause is critical. The air chills my cheeks as I rest.

Aside from participating in the greening world humming with new color, I also appreciate meeting dog walkers, joggers, or others out for a stroll. In this venue, there’s no place for discord. Masks cannot conceal heart-smiles.

It s precisely heart-smiles that evidence our blooming, whatever the season.

Plants and Flowers: Narcissus buds

From smarming mists beyond telling emerged the Celtic Druids with their rituals, prayers, stories, and incantations that swelled their oral tradition for long centuries and steeped their followers in a natural wisdom. Even though their power was indisputable, lawlessness still terrorized the land.

To ward off protection from bandits, travelers often invoked Nature in The Celtic Breastplate:

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven:

Light of sun,

Radiance of moon,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightening,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea,

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.

Centuries later, when St. Patrick and his monks were evangelizing fifth-century Ireland, he spotted Celtic marauders on the road, intent upon their destruction. He remembered this prayer and used its blessing as a protection. “Immediately, a cloak of darkness went over them so that not a man appeared.”

The story from The Celtic Tradition by Caitlin Matthews continues: their enemy only saw a troop of eight deer and a fawn with a white bird on its shoulder. Patrick and his cohort continued their journey, unharmed.

So the Celtic Breastplate has become the St. Patrick’s Breastplate: I Bind unto Myself Today.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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