Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
From St. Patrick’s Breastplate
I write to you today sitting at my kitchen island as we all hunker down further into this time of self-isolation and quarantine. I just heard that my gym was closed for 30 days and my acupuncturist for 1-2 weeks. We will hold staff meeting today by Zoom conference calling. It seems there is another confirmed case of Covid-19 in Loveland. (Please pray for those involved! You can read about it here at the Larimer County website.) These are different, interesting, anxiety-producing times.
Yet life goes on...And good things happen! Today we will celebrate Christopher Chorpenning’s 19th birthday with pizza and Guinness and Torte della Nona, our favorite Italian dessert! (Hal is making it as I write....wish I could insert the wonderful smells of custard and toasted pine nuts into this reflection!) Yesterday I walked in the sunshine and took pizza to a friend who had just moved and broken her hand in the process. Today we are receiving moisture that we always need in Colorado. What are you celebrating today?
The quotation above from St. Patrick’s Breastplate, an ancient Irish loricaor hymn, reminds me that God in Christ is always with us, protecting, accompanying, healing. I have prayed with it often. The Breastplate is a very long 5th century hymn in the style of Druidic poetry that is attributed to St. Patrick. Each verse begins with the phrase, “I arise today” or “I bind to myself today” and calls for the divine protection of God in the Trinity, God as Creator, God as Christ, God as Spirit. (You can read the whole of it at this link.)
Legend has it that St. Patrick sang this when an ambush was laid against him and his followers by the High King Learyto prevent him from going Tara to share the faith at the High King’s seat of power. A miracle happened and it appeared to those lying in ambush that St. Patrick and his monks were wild deer with a fawn following them. (Thus, the hymn is also called, The Deer’s Cry.) They were protected because know that Patrick and his followers shared the faith all across Ireland.
I invite you today to and in the coming days to use the portion of St. Patrick’s hymn quoted above as a prayer of protection when you are anxious You can also sing it! Below are words from a hymn in our hymnal that uses another portion of the Breastplate. And there is a link in the first line to an American choir singing the same tune in our hymnal.
I sing as I arise today!
I call on my Creator’s might:
The will of God to be my guide,
The eye of God to be my sight,
The word of God to be my speech,
The hand of God to be my stay,
The shield of God to be my strength,
The path of God to be my way.
I leave you with a final link on the very Irish morning here in Colorado...our weather fits what they call “a soft day” in Ireland....I arise today. This is a beautiful contemplative rendition of St. Patrick’s hymn with prayerful pictures of Ireland and people celebrating the joy of God’s love.
Beannacht! Blessings in Gaelic!
With you on this wilderness journey,
PS....Don’t forget our livestreaming worship coming to you Sundays at 11 am on our Facebook page!
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Read more