I always celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a big way. I have known my entire life that this holiday holds significance for me, not really because of what St. Patrick did to drive out paganism in Ireland but because it has always been important to those of us of Irish descent.
When I was a kid, we always wore green to school or ate green eggs for breakfast, and maybe my mom would bake soda bread.
My grandfather dyed his hair green every year before heading off to work at the fruit market in Chicago. Although I have to say I’ve never considered that, I do try to honor his tradition in other ways.
I would never wear sweaters with sparkly Christmas trees on them, but I am known to don a “Kiss me, I’m Irish pin” or wear something made by Guinness.
But I feel less celebratory this year. Even the photos I took of my dog, Iggy, in an Irish knit sweater that my mom knitted him for the Northwest Side Irish parade, remain un-posted to my Facebook page.
I cannot turn away from CNN updates about the increasing nuclear crisis in Japan and the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. I imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t make contact with my mom for days to know whether she was alive or couldn’t find my husband. I feel powerless, although I keep praying that the reactors will cool down and families will find their missing loved ones.
What else can I do? I can take time during Lent to be a better steward of the creation around me and strive for a low-consumption lifestyle. I can take a moment to appreciate my family and feel lucky that I’ve never suffered through a natural disaster.
And I can take what more I might otherwise have spent celebrating and give it to ELCA Disaster Response. I invite you to do the same.