Yesterday was the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in our small city. Quite a big deal this year--I heard there were something on the order of 100 entries.
Someone on the bus commented that they like the St. Patrick's Day parade here because it really shows the town who it is ...the fire department, the electric company (their float had linemen up on utility poles on it...I can imagine their engineers having a blast figuring out how to make that safe!), the day care centers, local businesses, schools, bars, Miss Kansas, you name it. The whole motley assortment. Our other annual parades are perhaps more unique to our community (the horsedrawn Christmas parade, or the art vehicle parade, or the Earth Day parade), but this one is all-inclusive. The parade anyone can be in, the parade for just being seen in a parade.
For me, it was an ordinary work day driving the bus. Well, sort of ordinary. At shift change, when I went on duty, we had to hike across the parade course...making it through just 1/2 block in front of the head of the parade. Traffic! Oh, my! And pedestrians, enough that anarchy took over for the crosswalk lights.
Waiting and waiting in heavy traffic, seeming to go nowhere while theoretically having a schedule, would make others tense, but the job has taught me to just relax and be in the moment. A time to meditate around the edges of full attention to the traffic light before me.
Is this parade really who we are, as a community?
So many people! So focused on one passion--St. Patrick's Day! St. Patrick's Day? Probably few of them know any more about him than I do, so what are they "celebrating" by wearing green--green anything, green everything? Do they even know?
A certain amount is spring fever, a rebound disease from cabin fever. An excuse to be out and about with the kids, to meet up with other families and friends, etc. But a lot of it seems to be simply reiterative. They are excited because the people around them are excited, who are excited because other people are excited...but about what?
Perhaps it is simply that wearing a particular color is one of the safest things they can do together with so many other people--strangers, even. It's something they can agree on, without discussing the details. There is no right or wrong way to do it, you just do it. It's easy. It's cheap. It's one size fits all, good for all ages. It contains no calories (except that green cotton candy) and doesn’t cause cancer (although the green beer was obviously causing some of my customers problems).
But what difference does it make, in the long run? It is so easy to do easy things, but what is the point? This parade may be who we are, but is it who we want to be?
I had a vision of a different parade. A parade for what REALLY matters. A parade about loving our families, whether they are broken or whole, gay or straight, nuclear or extended. A parade about loving our neighbors as our selves, whether they are homeless or housed, renting or owning, like us or different. A parade about loving God, whoever we conceive God to be.
In April, the town will have a parade about loving the earth...an Earth Day parade. Will there be 100 floats? Will there be thousands of children watching us say THIS IS IMPORTANT?
Or will they get the message that wearing green and getting drunk and acting silly is the most important thing our community celebrates?
Who are we? Who do we want to be? When do we start being it?
The rainbow covering reminds me that I am in this world, not of this world. I march in my own parade, I AM a parade every time I walk down the street. A parade of one.
A parade for living out my integrity, for keeping my focus on the things that matter.
You can be in my parade if you want to.
Why not now?