Fun Facts of Lent, Day Twenty-Three: The Irish Prayer

Today was a long day of traveling for me, and the only chance I had to write was on the plane. I didn’t have internet access, so I couldn’t research another woman of the Bible. My writing software kept crashing, so I couldn’t polish any of the ideas I’d already half-written. So I tried to think of some part of my spiritual life I could write about off the top of my head. Fortunately, someone reminded me of one this week.

There’s an Irish prayer my childhood preacher used to say at the end of every Sunday service. It still reminds me of him, and of that old church under the airport runway path. He used to have to pause in the middle of the eucharist because no one could hear over the sound of the planes.

As a teenager I went to youth conferences and we would sing a version of the prayer put to music. I remember once we did an exercise where we had to face another teenager, look them straight in the eye, and sing to each other. It was uncomfortable and enlightening.

When my grandfather died in January and we had to plan his funeral, my mother wanted to sing the prayer. She knew she’d never be able to make it through without crying, so she recorded the song ahead of time. When the track played at the service, anyone who had been able to keep it together until that point broke down in tears.

Yesterday a man named Brian Buffini spoke at the business conference I’d been attending in Las Vegas. I’ll admit I didn’t have the highest opinion of Mr. Buffini prior to the convention, but looking back I’m not sure that opinion was based on anything. I think I am just inherently suspicious of anyone whose income comes directly from real estate agents, as there are so many bad apples in the field. Mr. Buffini talked about coming to the United States from Ireland, and how the spirit and drive of the emigrant is something all of us have inside. It was a wonderful talk, and when his time was up he said he had one last thing to say to us. It was that same parting prayer I’d heard so many times before:

May the road rise with you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.