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Above: What I see when I crane my neck to the left. | Irish, translation: “God between us and all harm.”
Today, a brief note on a joyous morning, evening, nighttime for every Irishman and Irishwoman the world over: St. Patrick’s Day. The Feast Day of St. Patrick, March 17th commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and honors Ireland’s patron saint on the traditional date of his death.
Though now a day of merriment and mirth, Guinness and glee, it wasn’t always this way. For, the Irish history is one stained by gallons blood, sweat, and tears. From Famine to Troubles, it’s no wonder that koans such as the above have stood the test of time, reverberating from generation to generation. After all, it is said that the Irish invented the dirge. For a bit of evidence, look no further than William Butler Yeats’ “Remorse For Intemperate Speech”
I ranted to the knave and fool,
But outgrew that school,
Would transform the part,
Fit audience found, but cannot rule
My fanatic heart.
I sought my betters: though in each
Fine manners, liberal speech,
Turn hatred into sport,
Nothing said or done can reach
My fanatic heart.
Out of Ireland have we come.
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.
I carry from my mother's womb
A fanatic heart.
In light of the chaos, freneticism, and rancor of these past few days, weeks, months, years, Keats may well have been speaking about our modern times. Candidly, I don’t think it imprudent to utter such prayers a bit more often.
Today, more than most:
My heart is in New York City, absorbing the skirl of bagpipes and thunder of drums as I take in the city’s long, snaking parade.
My head is in the nooks and crannies of a dimly-lit pub, sipping an ice-cold Guinness slowly, carefully, while having great craic with family and friends.
My soul is in Ireland, paying heed to those that came long before me; those who ran from famine, fought in war, and held fast in faith so as to give their children a chance at freedom.
Until we meet again dear reader, forever may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
With that, I leave you with both prayer and (verbal) portrait.
Sláinte and Éirinn go Brách!
The Lorica of St. Patrick
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.
Verbal Portrait of a Writer in a Bar
The midday light wove through the whirling, dust-filled air and glanced against the waxed wood. The man ran his hands over the uneven counter: a scarred battlefield, its foxholes carved by an artillery of restless glasses and its surface washed by stank overpours. He fingered every last pockmark and massaged the wood as though it were his partner. Though he had no partner but the bottle.
His eyes fell upon a denim-coated, scruffy type suckling from his beer bottle as he would a teat. Though blue-collar, that color indicated neither his political leanings nor his attitude towards everyday life. At least probably not right now. Such was the mental lacquer of alcohol. It pulled down shades to counteract reality’s bright lights, darkening the willful imperfections held in each one’s own heart.
With that he silently lauded himself,
“What a description! What a marvelous description! Indeed you are a writer, fella!”
He then downed the sticky, frothy, non-refreshing drink they called beer in front of him. Indeed, he hoped that the sloshing liquid would ignite a chaotic maelstrom within him. A frenetic creativity that would help him unlock that universally-accessible language he could set down on paper. A language that would evoke tears, laughs, smiles, and hate.
But first, a second drink.
Audio of the above can be found here.
Per my about page, White Noise is a work of experimentation. I view it as a sort of thinking aloud, a stress testing of my nascent ideas. Through it, I hope to sharpen my opinions against the whetstone of other people’s feedback, commentary, and input.
If you want to discuss any of the ideas or musings mentioned above or have any books, papers, or links that you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of White Noise, please reach out to me by replying to this email or following me on Twitter.
With sincere gratitude,
In the Irish monastic tradition, a lorica is a prayer recited for protection. It is essentially a 'protection prayer' in which the petitioner invokes all the power of God as a safeguard against evil in its many forms. It derives from the Latin word of "lorica,” which originally meant "armor.”
From vivid descriptions of my most minute observations, I attempt to create a coherent verbal ‘image.’ Like the pointillistic brushstrokes of Seurat, my words would obfuscate if read individually, but render clarity when taken as a whole. Hence, the idea of verbal portraiture was born. A Verbal Portrait is a specific, hyper-detailed description of the reality an individual sees in front of him/her. Read more here.
I am of Irish decent and married an Irishman - this has always been one of my favorite blessings: May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand
Wow, way to go to NYC the one time when I'm not there 😔
I guess I am the harm that God is protecting you from 😭😭😭