March 1st is Saint David’s Day. My family has always celebrated it with pride, and not a little relief that the winter months are behind us. My great-grandmother was an immigrant from Wales in the 1880’s. Her father left the poverty-stricken slate mines of north Wales to settle in eastern Iowa as a farmer. Nearly one hundred years later, I found myself a student at Trinity College in south Wales where I could study Welsh (a difficult, guttural language to be sure). My other classes were Russian History, Outdoor Pursuits, and Chorale, because when you are in Wales, you must sing!
It was the OP class that captured my heart. Over 12 weeks, we learned technical climbing on the steep western cliffs facing the Irish Sea, whitewater kayaking in the wild, foaming rivers of Wales, hiking up the brooding mountains of the north, and the sport of orienteering. It challenged me physically, and I learned quickly to trust ~ my peers, the ropes, the kayak, and the compass. When we live with our petty suspicions about the motives and nature of others, it is wonderfully freeing to learn, experientially, that trust is a virtue to be cultivated.
My brother is named after Saint David, who was a teacher and a monk in the 6th century. Native Welsh, Saint David established Christian enclaves throughout the country. He was no stranger to challenges, and it was his faith that led him on as he shared the gospel with Atlantic pirates and poor Welsh villagers alike.
His trust in God never wavered. On his deathbed, he admonished people to be joyful, to keep their faith, and do the little things in life.
In future posts, I will describe the thrill of running rapids, racing through deep snow to find the orange control flags at an orienteering competition, and rappelling down the steep sea cliffs in a wildly beautiful, breathtaking country. But today is Saint David’s Day, March 1, and I am thinking about “doing the little things” that, when added up, make for a life of meaning and service…things like sharing a meal, sitting with the sick, imprisoned, or widowed, taking on extra at work so a co-worker can get a break, driving your car without ranting at other drivers, keeping your space neat so people don’t have to live with your mess. Joining folks in their sorrow. Saying thank you.
It’s rarely about the thrill, is it? Life is about trusting God that he made you to lighten the burden of other people. It takes trust to step backwards off a high cliff. To paddle over a waterfall, or to run in deep snow after hidden clues. But to trust in God is so much grander. It means that all will be well, even as waters pour over our heads, even as we slip and fall, even as we persist in the mundane. The secret is in staying focused on the little things of life! Happy Saint David’s Day! Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!
~ J.A.P. Walton
Photo Credit: Google images (because mine are all slides!) My chorale class sang a Christmas Concert here on a cold, snowy evening in December 1978. For more information about Wales, see here: Wales | History, Geography, Facts, & Points of Interest | Britannica.com Wales travel guide