I ran out greeting this Good Glorious Morning to Newburgh, to photograph Saint Patrick outside the church of his namesake. As previously mentioned in a public lover-letter to Saint Nicholas, I am a sucker for the Saints in Bishop’s garb; such admiration comes directly from their role as magic men.
Wizards, for lack of a better term.
I have been reading what I can about the thing we modern-folk know as The Green Man. It is the disgorging face seen on churches built in medieval Europe, with leaves for skin, as it were. They have mysterious meanings, origins that are not completely understood.
From what I can tell, they are the original gargoyles and their greenness may have been a way for earlier Christians to separate themselves from nature and their previously accepted earth worship.
For early Christians, it seems, in all their new-found salvation, the earth was believed responsible for their desire to sin. i.e. Reject Earth: Reject Sin.
But, many years now after the fact, man is different. He has “seen the light” and come out the other side, intact. That previously feared thing inside of us that causes us to want to make love and mayhem, for instance, that has been the source of much controversary over the ages, has now been quelled so as to allow us to go along swimmingly in polite society, for the most part.
But, Saint Thomas Aquinas (the smartest person ever) reminded us: God makes nothing in vain. The idea is an expansion of the assertion in Aristotle’s first principal that nature makes nothing superfluous. According to Aquinas, nature is subject to the creative genius of God.
In other words: God made the Earth and we should not reject it but learn to live in harmony with it. That is, the desire to exalt a Sun God, The Son of Man, Man himself as Deity, does not mean: GIVE UP YOUR CONNECTION TO THE EARTH. And yet, man took it as so and perhaps has given it up too much. Our polite society that calls for men to quell their sense of violence and competition, and women to lay down their sense of motherhood, has led us down an unsustainable path.
Now, what does this have to do with SAINT PATRICK? Well, we wear green in his name, when Spring Equinox is just on the brink of ringing the doorbell, and welcome it in a spirit of the Bacchanalia from which the celebration originated.
But, while we drink our green beer, we would benefit from saying, “Hello Green Earth. So very nice to see you again,” and then take heed of our own natural impulses while closely watching Saint Patrick. Like, St Nicholas, he has the commanding but magical presence of the Father Figure. And, he doesn’t offer us the toast of Bacchus without a cost. He says, “Go have your fun. Make your love. But, do it with dignity. Make love to someone you love; not a stranger. Save the build up of all your energies and go hit a ball with a bat. Learn to ballroom dance. Play out sexual heat by playing an electric guitar next to your groin. Watch as the music allays your energy to a quiet hum while simultaneously making your soul soar.”
“And,” he says “don’t despair.”
In an article I wrote for Reconnections, a new publication from the The Sacred Earth Project, I liken Saint Patrick to God the Father, and God the Father to the Earth:
And who is the Father but the Earth itself? The stern voice of the Father is like the harsh wind of winter, reminding us to pay penance for our transgressions and give thanks for the sacrifice the Earth makes to keep us nourished. Father is also the calm voice that speaks to us less with the compassion of Mother and more with the calm of reason. For throughout the winter our most dangerous foe is despair, which is the number one enemy of Faith. The holidays help combat this despair, ritualizing joy, hope, penance and sacrifice in a way that protects and purifies us. It is as if the Earth and God say to us in unison, with the soothing voice of a promise that is always kept:
“The light will return. The green of my landscapes will return. Of this you can be sure.”