Last week, I went to the local Intermediate School on St. Patrick's Day as a favor to a teacher-friend. I did an hour and a half of Irish history, songs, and stories for her fifth grade homeroom. I didn't dodge religion (you can't talk about St. Patrick -- or Druids -- or modern Ireland, come to that -- without talking about religion), but I was not there in my role as minister.
The final song I sang was "Danny Boy," and I talked about the Potato Famine, and how this song was so beloved of Irish-Americans because it spoke to their sense of separation. A young man is standing on the quay with his old mother, and they are saying good-bye. Despite their brave talk, they know that this is probably the last time they will ever see each other.
Sunday, a boy in that homeroom who is also one of my parishioners brought a whole bunch of St. Patrick's Day thank-you cards from the kids in the class. I was reading them over today, and this is what one girl wrote in hers.
Dear Dr. Art,
I first want to say Thank you. I really liked the last song you sang about the boy going to find a new home. It reminded me of my cousin Cayne he got ran over and died and I still believe that I will see him one day in heaven. Don't think it is a bad thing that you made me think of him. It's O.K. I think you helped me. Thank you. God with you.
Always, in my prayers,
And that, my friends, is how the Holy Spirit uses you even when you're not "doing ministry."