What in the world do red pandas and St. Patrick have in common? Most people know very little accurate information about both. And for me, both are inspirational figures that help me rise above the lowest common denominator of my debased nature.
The first similarity is that both are usually known by common pseudo names. Firefox and Lesser Panda are often the names to describe the red pandas. St. Patrick’s name originated at his birth was Maewyn Sucat, not Patrick. He took on Patrick decades later when he trained in the Catholic Church in France to become a Bishop. The second would be the inspiration that I derive from both.
St. Patrick was Roman British, not Irish. He was born in an economically privileged home in Brittan, and some accounts report that he usually behaved as a spoiled one. The nearest country neighbors were not friendly and the political envy and strife that describe many today rampantly prevailed in the hearts on both sides.
Supposedly, Maewyn behaved as the typical spoiled teen with little interest in moral much less faithful behavior and beliefs. One day he was nearby waters that Irish raiding pirates sailed, landed, captured him, and took him back to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. The job he was enslaved to was shepherding.
The combination of the humility of slavery, separation from all he knew, and time alone out doors caring for the animals began to change him. Teaching received in his youth from his family and church began to speak to him in his heart. But, first, his natural human response, is what he does…run away.
When the opportunity presented he escaped back to his home. There he finished a formal education and felt called to enter the priesthood. A dream convinced him that he was called to go back to minister to the Irish. But, he was turned down many times by the church hierarchy. However, this only burdened his heart more and compelled him to persevere.
Who would do this? These people kidnapped him and sold him against his will and economic condition when he was just a teen boy. Yet, he was a changed individual who now knew personally and experienced the love and forgiveness of his Creator through a Savior. This is why. Personally encounters with the living God requires a life change. One can no longer live the status quo or clamber up the ranks of personal promotion. Instead a life of humble service and courageous leadership ensues.
When St. Patrick taught the Irish, he did so through what was already known to them. He took the elements of the pagan worship that had some truths, magnified those, and then gently corrected the flaws. He used the nature around them to teach basic tenets of the Christian faith. The one most see marketed today is the 3 leaf clover of which he conveyed the unique godhead properties of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit yet being the same one true and living God.
It was this style of teaching that I see as similar with my writing and inspiration that I found through the red pandas. So many metaphors of life came to me as I listened to the zoo visitors respond, “That’s not a panda, where are the pandas?” It is through these literary associations that I compare the red pandas to giant pandas for little Rojo to work through her identity crisis that has spiraled her into an emotional pity party that if left unchecked by her mother will spiral into a full blown MDM (Major Depressive Episode).
Check one of them out further for yourself. Rojo is available at Chattanooga Zoo, Zoo Miami, Books and Books, The Bookstore in the Grove, and at most online retailers including the publisher Mascot Books.
#St. Patrick #RedPandasandSt.Patrick’s Day #St. Patrick’s Day