Thursday, July 15, 2010

Delightful misery

“Why Padraic, how are you now?” the cheerful Irishman asked as we navigated the isles at Tesco on our work-day at the priory.

“Terrible, terrible,” the priest answered brightly as if he had won the lottery, “but nobody cares now, do they? And how are you?”

“Truthfully about the same, but isn’t that always the case?” came the chipper, polite answer. “But you can’t complain about the weather we have today at any rate. What are you here for?”

“This young lady and myself are getting an apartment ready for some visitors tomorrow,” Fr. Padraic began, and the conversation never returned to their mutual miseries.

The Irish are without a doubt the most delightfully miserable people I have ever met. Their suffering is quite real and never forgotten, but that is somehow not enough to ruin an otherwise lovely day (or even to worsen a rainy one).

As I commented last year, the Irish wear suffering like a well-worn t-shirt. It is unmistakably present, but has become so well-worn over time that it could almost be considered comfortable. After all, there is always tea to greet the morning and beer to greet the night, and perhaps even a few cigarettes to get you from one to the other.

Of course, I don’t mean to minimize their pain and oppression over the centuries, to brush it aside and gloss over the raw evil of it. But they sort of do that for me.

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