Saturday, February 20, 2016

Celebrating Saint Piddlepotts

 

St. Piddlepotts is the patron saint of side-eddies. He always enjoyed the challenge of getting off the mainstream of rivers in his native Ireland to rest at quiet pools giving beautiful reflection of himself and charming surroundings. These pools were an end in themselves never giving back to the River. Unfortunately in the warm season they would promote all manner of pesky, distracting bugs. For this he devised a series of purification poems addressing those ponds and the people who loved to retreat to them. He would conclude every petition with the stirring words: "so begone ye nasty buzzers this is our peace, for Chrissakes!"
 
The Saint was born Paddy Elsewhere in Happy Moss in a family of 13 children (10 girls and 3 boys). Father was supervisor in a distillery and wrote bawdy limericks. Mother tended to kids and messes. Environment did not promote quiet thought or patient reading. Paddy ran off to the county monastery just to get some peace and fresh air and masculine reinforcement. For a while he toyed with ancient Celtic Animism. But a traveling minstrel sang songs of Jesus and the miracles, and that launched a new direction.
 
The River was a place for baptisms and hearty hymn sings. The ponds of Piddlepotts were for skipping stones, endless reflection and gathering potter's clay. The Saint's special day is the first Thursday following Easter. Adherents are encouraged to rest for the 10 days preceding and then to head to the ponds with flat stones, chicken sandwiches and metal pots. Preaching style at these gatherings emphasized humour, personal anecdote, varied definitions of love and inclusive tolerance. His followers, the Piddlers of the early 1600's loved him for it.
 
He is believed to have written the bracing hymn Let's Not Gather at the River. No individual under the age of 11 was ever allowed into service. His record of 39 stone skips has never been bettered.

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