jeudi, novembre 06, 2008

Column from this past Saturday


In dark times, look for saints among us

Published: Nov 01, 200809:37 EST

Focus on Faith
As I sit here at my desk, a chilly rain sweeps against my window. In the yard, the brown and orange leaves raked into piles have been impelled every which way by the October wind. Simultaneously I admire their beauty against the still-green lawn, and calculate how many hours I must add to my yard time because I wasn't swift enough to read the forecast
As I consider the minor irritation of a little cold rain and a few thousand soggy leaves, I am aware that around me families are coping with much worse. Whoever he is, our next president is going to have to reach out to cities and towns across this country devastated by an economic crisis that shows, as yet, little signs of tapering off.I wish I was more holy, I think, then all of this "little stuff" wouldn't bug me.By the time you read this, it will be Nov. 1, All Saints Day. On this day, we in the "liturgical" churches, which include Anglicans and Roman Catholics, honor the work of the Jesus-followers who have gone before us, men and women known and unknown.We honor them because they revealed God's love to a world in desperate need of love, and justice and forgiveness. In ways spectacular and covert, they brightened an oftentimes gloomy world with God's light.It would make life so much simpler if we knew the saints who walk among us — we'd be on our best behavior. But God doesn't make it so easy for us.The ones we see in medieval paintings with the gilded halos around their heads? Well, there's a formal or less formal agreement that they were a blessing to someone. (Unless they got a halo by virtue of having paid for the painting!)But then there are the ones we don't know about.I had a few relatives in my life I might call, stealing a phrase from the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, "anonymous Christians." While they were not believers, they demonstrated Christ-like love in tangible ways that left a lasting mark on me.Other saints I recall have reached out in times of doubt or sadness and spoken a word of grace or joy that helped me to see just far enough to take the next step.A professor at seminary, an elderly parishioner in my former congregation, children in the pre-school chapel service I used to lead — all of these members of the family of God have been windows letting His love gleam into shadowy places, when I wasn't willing or able to see light.This may be a dark time for you. Perhaps you are coping with chronic pain. Maybe you have a son or daughter struggling with an addiction or trapped in a bad relationship. As you face a new onslaught of credit card bills or that next auto payment, you may not be sure about how you are going to rob Peter to pay Paul.Without diminishing what you are facing in the least, let me suggest that you ponder the saints who have spoken to you in the past — and the ones who brighten your life today.Think you don't have any? Pray that God will bring someone to help you bear your burdens, or give you new eyes to see the person already there.Perhaps you are one of the fortunate folks sailing along without large challenges. Have you considered being a saint for someone who needs help?If you get to know a saint, or find a concrete way to be one in someone else's life, you may find that your perspective on it changes.Being a devout Christian is not all about observing "them," the holy ones as they set an example.It's about "you" — one child of God helping another one.Halos not required.

Elizabeth an Episcopal priest from Glenmoore, can be reached at The Focus on Faith column appears on the first Saturday of each month.

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