We know he had two companions, hunger and nakedness, and that the gnawing in his belly and the chill on his exposed skin were his worst sufferings, acutely painful presences that could not be shaken off.
From this scant information—Patricius is not a man of many words—we can deduce that the boy had a hardy constitution and had probably been a beloved and well-nourished child; otherwise, he could not have survived. Like many another in impossible circumstances, he began to pray.
He had never before paid attention to the teachings of his religion; he tells us that he didn’t really believe in God, and he found priests foolish. But now, there was no one to turn to but the God of his parents.
One is reminded of the reports of contemporary hostages about how they make it through the dreary years of captivity. “Tending flocks was my daily work, and I would pray constantly during the daylight hours. The love of God and the fear of him surrounded me more and more—and faith grew and the Spirit within me was ardent.” Patricius endured six years of this woeful isolation, and by the end of it he had grown from a careless boy to something he would surely never otherwise have become—a holy man, indeed a visionary for whom there was no longer any rigid separation between this world and the next.
Cahill, Thomas (2010). How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History) (p. 102). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I spent some of my morning rereading for the third time, How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. The remarkable thing about St. Patrick, born a Roman Catholic, who was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave, is that he had a private conversion and by a miracle escaped back to Rome.
But this raucous group of nearly tribal folk who sang, danced, fought, wrote poetry, and had a lot of sex, stayed with him. They had literally captured his youth away and yet captured his heart. He went back to Ireland of his own free will to bring God’s truth and love. And, it mattered more than he knew, for they would be the ones responsible for saving a civilization that had nearly destroyed itself.
This might be a bit much for most folks, but I tend to be a deep thinker, always looking for answers and help in navigating life. I don’t think it’s natural to return to your enemies who made you suffer. It has to be supernatural, a quest he couldn’t say no to. I have found myself in these kind of unnatural situations at various times in my life, where I’ve been compelled to commit to something that didn’t look sensible or logical to the outsider.
Most people take the glamorous road. I have often tended to travel along the rougher roads hoping for more meaningful intrinsic rewards. Sometimes rough roads are forced upon us and we don’t have a strong enough constitution to navigate the terrain. This was St. Patrick in his first several years as a shepherd freezing on an Irish hill.
But, then sometimes we choose the rough roads because they are the right roads, the path that leads to a supernatural experience, a miracle, a blessing, something that only can be experienced through hardship.
Has that ever been you? Can you think of a time in your life you knew going into a situation, that you needed to pack an arsenal of supplies, and thicken your skin, but that it was the right thing?
Patrick prayed, made peace with God, and then looked not only into his own heart but into the hearts of others. What he saw convinced him of the bright side—that even slave traders can turn into liberators, even murderers can act as peacemakers, even barbarians can take their places among the nobility of heaven. In becoming an Irishman, Patrick wedded his world to theirs, his faith to their life.
Cahill, Thomas (2010). How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History) (p. 115). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I doubt that I have the courage or conviction St. Patrick had. I know in reading about him, he would be amused at all the parties in his favor, only because he understands the deep need in human beings to connect, to face their demons, to have fun. He loved the Irish people for all they were, which was the opposite of the polished, cultured Roman.
I think he would appreciate the green beer, and this rugged, yet warmly satisfying combination that resulted in green potato soup.
Green Potato Soup
This is a healthy soup, even if there is a dollop of butter and a splash of cream. Most of this soup is made from watercress, leeks, shallots, and spinach. I even added in some left over dandelion that I didn’t use in this dandelion salad.
I used a homemade vegetable stock, nothing fancy. For the best flavor, I think chicken stock wins out. If you don’t use chicken stock, you may find you need a lot of salt. This is quite a satisfying soup and I nearly ate it all by myself for lunch today.
The added pleasure in making this soup was trying out my new OXO Good Grips Hand held mandolin slicer. I received it just yesterday, one for me and one for you. Stay tuned this coming week for a giveaway.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ cups thinly sliced leeks
- 1 shallot minced
- salt and pepper
- 1 medium sized yukon gold potato, thinly sliced
- 2 bunches watercress
- 1 bunch baby spinach
- handful of fresh Italian parsely
- 2 cups chicken broth (can substitute with vegetable broth)
- splash cream (optional)
- pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- Turn heat to medium. Melt butter in sauce pan. Add olive oil.
- Add leeks and shallots and cook for three minutes to soften. Season with salt.
- Add potato and cook until softened, turning often. Season with salt
- Once potato is cooked, add watercress and spinach and mix together until wilted.
- Add chicken broth.
- Using emulsion blender, blend soup until potatoes are thoroughly broken down.
- Add splash of cream.
- Add nutmeg. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Garnish with sliced leeks, splash of cream and chopped parsley.
More Green Food from Spinach Tiger
Baked Oysters with Spinach