Harry and the Saints

My friend Doc Harry is quite an interesting person.  He is a wealth of information.  Some people have referred to him as a "walking encyclopedia."   Harry does seem to know quite a bit about things, and even when he doesn't know something, it is my belief that he can still convince you that he is an expert.

Doc Harry is a retired football coach, and school superintendent.  He has, in the past, taught from first grade through college.  He has worked as a special education teacher, and spent many years as an elementary and middle school principal.

Doc Harry isn't stupid and he really does know a lot of things.  The big problem in listening to Harry is that it is hard to tell when he is working at educating you or just pulling your leg.   I had a friend of mine that explained Harry's degrees to me.   
My friend said: "Harry first got a BS.  He needed more education so he got himself a MS.
You do understand that is simply more of the same.

"Yeah." Said I.  "How about when he got his PhD?"

Our friend said: "Not more of the same.  With Harry, it means piled higher and deeper."

Doc Harry is a well educated man, as well as being both interesting and entertaining.  I prize him as a friend.   

Harry and I will often have coffee together.  I will read some of my stories to him, and he will offer advice and sometimes correct a factual error that might creep into my writings.

"Are you going to write something about St. Urho again this year?"  Asked Doc Harry.

"I don't know, I replied.  "St. Urho and St. Patrick's won't be until March 16 and 17th." 

"St. Urho is a made up saint." Said Harry.  "Why don't you write a about a real saint, like St. Patrick, or better yet the patron saint of my ancestors.  St. Columba, the apostle to the Picts.

"Whoa, whoa!" said I.  "I was under the impression that your ancestors were Welsh.  St. Columba was a Scottish saint."

Harry puffed himself up. "There is a lot that you don't know about me.  I am not only Welsh, but I also have Scotch and Irish ancestors.   The Welsh, along with the Scots and Irish are all Celtic peoples.  I think that I need to give you a lesson about Scottish and Irish Saints."

"…Uh, oh kay."

Harry motioned to the waitress for more coffee. He waited a moment until our cups were filled, then continued:  "St. Patrick was not Irish, he was a Scot. He lived during most of the fifth century.   He drove the snakes out of Ireland and converted the Irish to Christianity.  Sadly, this could not be said about the Picts, the people who lived in Scotland and Wales."

Harry looked at me and asked: "You do know who the Picts were don't you?"

"Sure" I replied.  "They were the Celtic people that lived in Wales and Scotland."

Harry stared intently over his cup of coffee at me. "The Picts were bad news.   They were a fierce wild people who ran about naked and painted their skins blue. 

"Yeah" I responded. "Sort of like how you dress and act when you go to a Portland Vikings game."

Harry Scowled.  "The Picts were such a fierce people, that the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a wall across the entire island to keep them out."

I smiled: "Like the wall that Bush is building to keep out the Mexicans?"

Harry continued: "These people knew no fear, and even the fierce Romans were not able to stand up to them.  Northern Britain, Scotland, and Wales were populated with pagan peoples, who had no use for Christianity.  This is the world that St. Columba was born into.   Patrick was born in Scotland and brought Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century.  St. Columba was born in Ireland and brought Christianity to Scotland in the Sixth Century. 
St. Columba was no ordinary person.  People soon realized this, when as but a small child miracles started happening around him.  As a child he changed water into wine…"

I interjected: "I bet that made him popular."

Harry looked at me, and with a straight face continued. "It was a handy skill to have in those days.  He was forty five years old when he crossed the channel from Ireland to Scotland in a flimsy wicker boat accompanied by 12 of his apostles. Legend has it that he brought his boat up into the river Ness and witnessed a group of people being menaced by a huge serpentine monster.    St. Columba ran towards the monster all the while making the sign of the cross.  That was all that it took.  The monster ran in fear.  It dived into the river Ness and swam toward the Loch, where its decedents have remained to this day; never again to menace anyone outside of the lake."

"This was not his only miracle.  He had many of them" Lectured Doc. Harry. "He approached Inverness, the city of King Brude. Brude was the most powerful king of all the Picts.  The gates to his city were barred shut.  All St. Columba did was make the sign of the cross and the gates flew open.  He challenged the local pagan priests to a miracle contest.  The pagan priests were soundly beaten.  Columba concluded his day by bringing a much loved child back to life.
King Brude was most impressed, and immediately converted over to Christianity.  As overlord of Scotland, Brude conferred to Columba the Island of Iona.  It was in Iona that Columba built a monastery and used it as a base to send missionaries throughout both Scotland and Wales."

The waitress approached us with a coffee pot and both Harry and I allowed our cups to be topped off.   

Harry looked at me in a most serious manner. "You can tell stories about fake Finnish saints, but St. Columba was real.  He was not like a lot of other saints.  He liked to drink…"

I commented that I thought his being able to change water into wine made that a fairly easy thing to do.

Harry continued: "…and he did have a bit of a temper. The name Columba means dove, but he wasn't necessarily peaceful.  Columbia was not reluctant to get in a bit of a scuffle and kick some butt if it was necessary.  He fit in well with our Scot and Welsh temperaments; you can see much of these characteristics in our Celtic decedents today."

The waitress handed me the bill.  She pointed to Harry "He said that you were supposed to pick up the tab."   I scowled, while Harry grinned.

My friend Doc Harry is a most interesting person. He is a wealth of information, both real and legendary.  He is one in a million, and I am most pleased to have him for my friend.


Bill loves letters, and you can write to him at eaglew@sthelensupdate.com, or visit his satirical web page at www.sthelensupdate.com

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