Monday Morning Wake-Up Call:
Your Motivation, Inspiration & Direction for the Week Ahead
Ode to St. Patrick!
This week promises to be fun for many as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But do you know the story of St. Patrick? It’s definitely an interesting one.
One morning, a 16-year-old boy was kidnapped from his house by a band of knife-wielding thugs and taken to another country to be sold as a slave. The year was 401 AD. He was made a shepherd. Slaves were not allowed to wear clothes, so he was often dangerously cold and frequently on the verge of starvation. He often went months without seeing another human being – severe psychological torture.
But during this time, he received his greatest blessing. He used his solitude as a time to meditate, to learn to control the mind and to explore the depths of feeling, something almost impossible in a normal life. He had never been a religious person, but to hold himself together and take his mind off the pain, he began to pray so much that “…in one day,” he wrote later, “I would say as many as a hundred prayers and after dark nearly as many again… I would wake and pray before daybreak – through snow, frost and rain…”
The young slave prayed for six years, until one night he heard a voice tell him he was going home. He was to find a specific ship that would take him home. He walked 200 miles and, when he got to the ocean, there was a ship preparing to leave for his homeland of Britain. He got aboard the ship and went home to reunite with his family.
This 16-year-old boy had changed. He was a holy man who had visions. He heard the voices of the people of Ireland calling him back. He eventually left his family to become ordained as a priest and a bishop so that he could return to Ireland and convert the Irish to Christianity. At the time, the Irish were fierce, illiterate, savage, Iron-Age people. For over 1,100 years, the Roman Empire had been spreading its civilizing influence from Africa to Britain, but Rome never conquered Ireland.
Patrick decided to make these people literate and peaceful. Braving dangers and obstacles of tremendous magnitude, he actually succeeded! By the end of his life, Ireland was Christian. Slavery had ceased entirely. Wars were much less frequent, and literacy was spreading.
How did he do it? He began by teaching people to read, starting with the Bible. Students eventually became teachers and went to other parts of Ireland to create schools and teach others, showing them how to turn sheepskin into paper and paper into books.
Copying books became the major religious activity of that country. The Irish love words. Monks spent their lives copying books: the Bible, the lives of saints and the works accumulated by the Roman culture – Latin, Greek and Hebrew books, grammars, the works of Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, Homer, Greek philosophy, math, geometry and astronomy.
As Ireland was being civilized, the Roman Empire was falling apart. Libraries disappeared in Europe. Books were no longer copied (except in the city of Rome itself), and children were no longer taught to read. The civilization that had been built up over 11 centuries disintegrated. This was the beginning of the Dark Ages.
Because our slave-boy-turned-bishop transformed his suffering into a mission, civilization itself, in the form of literature and the accumulated knowledge contained in that literature, was saved during that time of darkness. He was named a saint – the famous Saint Patrick. You can read the full and fascinating story in the excellent book How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.
Something to Think About
“Very interesting,” you might say, “but what does that have to do with me?” This young man, at the onset of his manhood, got a ‘raw deal.’ But therein lies the lesson. Nobody gets a perfect life. The question is not, “What could I have done if I’d gotten a better life?” but rather, “What can I do with the life I have?” How can you take your personality, your circumstances, your upbringing, the time and place you live in and make something extraordinary out of it? What can you do with what you’ve got?
In this crazy, fast-paced life, we sometimes get so busy that we forget to slow down and have some quiet time for ourselves. It’s easy when you’re a shepherd on top of a mountain, but what about when you’re a busy, successful REALTOR®?
It’s said that the best time to slow down and clear our minds is when we are the busiest. How crazy is that? Who has time to slow down when we’re busy? But many recent studies show that not only will you make better decisions, but you also will have more energy and be more effective if you take time in the middle of the afternoon to get quiet and meditate for 20 minutes. Try it for a week, and see what happens.
Words of Wisdom
“We can choose to be affected by the world or we can choose to affect the world.” – Heidi Wills
“When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective.” – Harvey Mackay
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” – Wayne Dyer
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” – Mother Teresa