Today I send my kids to school with their green accessories, much the same way my mother sent me.
I believe it was fourth grade, and we were living in Jacksonville, Florida. Mom stopped my sister and me at the front door. She seemed more excited than usual. In her hands were two little buttons which she proceeded to pin on our chests. They said “Erin Go Bragh” and had green ribbons hanging from the back. We were confused.
“Erin Go Bragh?” What did it mean?
“Long live Ireland,” we were told.
‘Whatever,’ I thought. Ireland was like a mythical place that our great grandparents had come from. I had no idea that my sister and I bore the hope of generations.
I also had no idea that I would grow up to marry a man who carried more Irish blood than me. Someone with ancestors who “got off the boat” in Philadelphia and stayed, making livings as servants to some of the city’s wealthiest families. The combination of our DNA meant I would have children who are technically more Irish than me.
But now, I carry hopes for them – just like their great, great grandparents who labored under visions of a better life. And the more I learn about the struggles, troubles, and hardship of the Irish people, the more I am grateful for this land of plenty into which my children were born.
Today we celebrate by wearing green and eating shepherd’s pie. Some see it all as frivolous fun. I see it as a day’s rest after hundreds of years of toil. It is a blessed moment in which we acknowledge the perseverance of many, and the joyful hope that springs eternal from hearts filled with love.
May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Salvation, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.
-Prayer of St. Patrick