I’m thinking about snakes. Snakes, and Ireland, and St Patrick, since his big day is coming up. I was amazed to learn that post-glacial Ireland is indeed free of snakes. I confess to some disbelief, but if Wikipedia says it, it must be true--or at least 'truthy', and who doesn’t love a good miracle? I’m especially fond of the banishing variety. There’s a lot of stuff in this world I’d like to see us get rid of somehow.
I wanted to go to a nearby mall today to pick up some overdue necessities, but a local river has foiled my plan after a week of nearly Biblical rains. I’m now wishing we had a special saint around here who could send the rivers back down within their banks. I’m picturing him now, in his glorious golden, waterproof boiler suit, brandishing his sacred Shop-Vac, as he sucks the Passaic River to within an inch of its existence (No half-measures here. Saint Shop-Vac wouldn’t be canonized for nothing, after all), then with the flick of a switch, goes on to clean up the mud and debris left behind. It’s a wet-dry vac, you know, and it doesn’t take any nonsense, even from Mother Nature. I suspect he’s going to be tied up in Japan for the foreseeable future, however. Certainly a good reminder that there are far worse things than not going to the mall.
Here in Jersey, I have to say there are some saints and their miracles I would welcome. For example, if there was a Saint Joey, or a Saint Vinny (no, not Joseph or Vincent. This is Jersey), who could lead all the Hummers and SUVs out of the state, I would be leading the charge to get him his own holiday just like Patrick. I’m sure there’d be plenty of beer involved in this one, too, don’t you worry. It’s partly because of the vehicles themselves, their waste of valuable resources and their taking up of more space than their fair allotment in parking lots, sure, but I confess it’s also the douchebags and douchebagettes (baguettes?) who drive them—usually so close that you can’t even see their headlights in your rear-view—that have made me weary. If Saint Joey (who carries not a shillelagh, but a Louisville Slugger emblazoned with the NY Yankees logo) could just magically lead them out of the state to, say, the edge of a cliff or an isolated nightclub somewhere, that would be just fine by me. They could even continue talking and texting on their phones as they go, since they’re propelled by Joey’s miraculous powers and the thumping of their stereo systems. Henceforth, I’d never be without my plastic Saint Joey on my dashboard, with his ripped abs and Axe body spray doubling as an air . . . uh . . . freshener, I guess? Beloved Saint Joey, look favorably upon we humble drivers of compact cars, we the downtrodden commuters, and do your thing. Amen.
I think I could also embrace a saint who could banish cellulite forever. Yes, yes, again I realize that this is New Jersey, no longer the Garden State but rather the Cosmetic Surgery State. But one of the cool things about saints is that they do this stuff magically and for free—no arguing with your insurance company about the medical necessity of sleek thighs and a shapely rump, and no swelling or scar tissue, or looking like an expensive and freakish version of your former self. Just instant fabulousness. What would she be called? Hmmmm . . well, as mentioned, this is Jersey, so probably something like Saint Nicky (and you dot the 'i' with a heart) or Saint Vicky. I considered Saint Snookie, but that just seemed wrong on so many levels. Either way, though, this will be the first saint depicted in mosaics with a fake tan. Artisans, prepare your orange tiles.
Some of the above mentioned issues in need of saintly attention are exactly the reasons why I find myself fairly confused on a daily basis about why I’m in NJ. I never expected to find myself here in my adult life (having had enough in childhood, thanks), but here I am. Admittedly, I don’t intend to remain here, but I have lived in other locations, and know that every place has its good points and its bad points. In Vermont, I wished for a saint who could magically make the trip to the grocery store last only 5 minutes, instead of 40 (and that’s without any traffic jams), and who could take away the Blue Jays trying to eat the paint off the house during extreme cold spells—but I’d want them back in Spring. I’m sure in winter most Vermonters would appreciate a patron saint of pipes, who keeps them from bursting. I know when I lived there I would have also appreciated a saint—probably something like Saint Moonflower or Saint Birkenstock—who could lead all (or at least a great deal) of the patchouli oil out of the state for a while, just to give my nose and lungs a little break. I really do miss Vermont, though, especially when I’m reminded that it already has its own patron saint, a living one; Saint Bernie. Now that’s a statue I want for my dashboard, when one day it will surely lead me safely back to those Green Mountains.
I recall Boulder, Colorado could have used a saint to lead at least half of its massage therapists and yoga instructors out to other places. Really, the town was as saturated with those as the ground by my local mall is with water. I mean, for heaven’s sake, how damned emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy do we have to be, already?
This is all a bit of silliness, of course. At least, for me it is, since I’m not a Catholic. I’m a Buddhist. We have gurus and teachers, and even some stories of miraculous occurrences, but mostly, we’re left to find our own way out of suffering. We’re told this is possible, and we’re taught the manner in which to do it, but it can take lifetimes to master. It is simple, but not easy. Control that monkey-mind of yours, the teachings tell me.
Stop. Breathe. Clear your head. See what’s before you.
Find compassion for the Hummer driver, the speeding text-messager who might kill you. Learn to appreciate your body and its gifts, cellulite or not.
Accept with equanimity the long drive, or the river that overflows its banks sometimes. They are as they are; all of them.
Chase the snakes from your Ireland, or learn to love even the snakes?
This is the miracle you must work.
Work at it. Be awake. Be the miracle, Blanche.
And good luck with that, ‘cause you still need to drive to the store today.
Tell me, readers--what miracles would you like to see?