Talking about Work on St. Paddy’s Day

Ireland’s flag flies from the fence of my next door neighbor.
I think this (partially) atones for the plastic inflatable
Grinch last December, don’t you (wink, wink)?

[regarding the construction Columcille’s House (Columcille = Columba) in the town of Kells, Ireland, built 11th century.  This is where the Book of Kells originated.]

“They didn’t have time to do poor work.”  He was talking about the modern inversion of production standards – the prevalent assumption that we haven’t time, or can’t afford, to work well. But, of course, nobody ever has time or can ever afford to do poor work; that poor work is affordable is an illusion created by the industrial economy.  If bad work is done, a high price must be paid for it; all “the economy” can do is forward the bill to a later generation — and, in the process, make it payable in suffering.

But the real genius of a country, though it may indeed fructify in great individual geniuses, is in the fine abilities – in the minds, eyes, and hands – of tens of thousands of ordinary workers.  Peter called this “the genius of genus.” Columcille’s House was not, like a monument of modern architecture, the work only of one individual genius but grew out of many miles of stone walls around little fields and out of many cottages.

Thus, coming to Ireland has reminded me again how long, complex, and deep must be the origins of the best work of any kind.


   ~ Wendell Berry, Irish Journal essay, included in Home Economics (emphases mine)

* * * * *

And not seldom, after the manner of the apostle Paul, he toiled with manual labor, fishing and tilling the ground; but chiefly in building churches, to the which employment he much urged his disciples, both by exhortation and example.

~ The Life and Acts of Saint Patrick by Jocelin – found in the post The Toiling and Tilling of St. Patrick, by PoiemaPortfolio, a blog I highly value reading.  Thanks, Poiema!

* * * * *

If you have never read through (or sung!) St. Patrick’s Breastplate, also called by its Latin name, Lorica, you have missed a mighty anthem.  On those mornings when despair wants to claim victory, when bleak doesn’t begin to describe your outlook – on those mornings, these are words to strengthen and cheer you. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Put on The Chieftains,  boil some cabbage, cook up some corned beef, dance a jig, say a prayer of thanks for the gift of this man to our world, and do good work today.


9 thoughts on “Talking about Work on St. Paddy’s Day

  1. As soon as I post this comment, we are headed to Michelle and Don’s for corned beef, cabbage, colkannon, and soda bread. Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
    Carrie (whose maiden name is Shannon – like the river) đŸ™‚

  2. We listened to Tim Keller on the way home. Twice.  Talking about Work.  I’d give you a link but I have no idea where the mp3 came from.  We’re home and hoping some sanity has returned to thine abode.

  3. It’s funny how often our thoughts run in the same direction! I, too, have been considering the subject of common work.  The book _ Ideas Have Consequences_  stimulated my thinking.  I’d like to look at Wendell Berry’s essays when I am finished–he writes so elegantly.  Unfortunately, our library doesn’t have _Home Economics_,but there are quite a few other titles to choose from. My, he is prolific! Thanks for the St. Patrick’s Day post.  My Grandfather was Irish, so I have a little “green” in my blood. 

  4. Gracie and I went to Applebee’s for lunch today (even though she hasn’t been working there for a month, they still gave us a great deal!) and our waitress came over and pointed to a couple a few tables away. “They’re leaving because we’re not serving corned beef!” she said in disbelief  I was actually a bit surprised, myself. They at least had the place decorated all in green. Then I stopped by Audrey’s on my way out of town, and she had 2 big packages of corned beef ready to fix for herself and her boyfriend and several friends who were coming to celebrate the holiday with them. “Are YOU cooking it?” I asked in disbelief. “No,” she shook her head, looking embarrassed. “This is my first time to eat it, so Brint is making it.” Sorry to say, I never served it when my kids were growing up. There’s a first time for everything!

  5. Full disclosure:  we didn’t have corned beef and cabbage this year.  We just enjoyed a week of feasting and needed to go “lite” tonight.  Carrie and Mel – I hope your (and your daughter’s) meal was wonderful.  One St. Patrick’s Day we went to a wonderful café in Prosser, WA, and had Irish Stew (made with lamb) for lunch.  Mel, I applaud Audrey for being willing to try something new.  Hip, hip, hooray!Dan – Awww.  We should have listened to it while you were here!  Curt is still off work; he’s, ahem, talking about going to the doctor tomorrow.  C & T stayed Saturday.  We miss everyone, sniff, sniff.Poiema – I’m glad you keep referencing Weaver’s book.  I feel like I’ve missed two great chances to read it and discuss it with good thinkers.Angie – Oh I love it too.  Do you sing it at church?  I loved the organ accompaniment on the snippet.  Thanks for including it.

  6. I didn’t appreciate St. Patrick until my husband and I read How the Irish Saved Civilization.  We fell in love with him so much we wanted to name our 12 yr old after him, except she came out a girl.  I don’t particularly like Patricia…so we chose another name.

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