Usual saints

“Sometimes, I wish I had a cool saint story. Something like Christopher, who carried the Christ child without knowing it, and nearly got crushed, drowned and dead for his trouble. Or George, killing the dragon and getting the girl (did you know saints get girls? Some of them do). Patrick had that neat snake trick going, and little Joanie dressed up as a man to drive the English snakes out of France and crown the True King, although if she’d thought twice, she might have put it a little less messianically. Came to a bad end, that one, as in not the end I’d choose for myself.

Then there’s Joseph, who went around burying people upside down in their own front yards, unless – and this is quite possible – I’m becoming a little confused.

Point is, I don’t have a cool, curious or eye-catching story like theirs. No snakes, dragons, water, fire or miraculous real estate deals. I am one of the run-of-the-mill, everyday, workaday, usual saints. I am here today, being remembered with my colleagues from every walk of life and every shade of death you can imagine, because once I told my godchild that I was praying for her, and she remembered it, because no one had ever told her that before.

She imagined my prayers whispering around God’s ears, and God’s eyes turning to fall upon her, and God’s hand stretching out to her and offering her a Kleenex. She imagined God’s smile as she hunched over her own knees and snuffled and sniffed and refused comfort only so that it would be offered some more.

She felt that warmth that you know if you’ve felt it, and she remembered that imagined moment for years to come, so that today, one of those millions of candles is mine, my birthday song, my twinkling star, my memory, lit up by an old lady with a Kleenex in her pocket, a prayer in her heart and, God bless her, an eager readiness to share either with the first poor passerby that looks like he needs it.

It amazes me still to be in the company of the saints and the apostles and, of course, You Know. Just a usual saint, mostly unremembered, the story seldom told, as ordinary as the man sitting next to you on the bus, infinitely blessed.”

As told to reporters at the Usual Saints’ Annual Rally for All Saints and All Souls, Cloud Nine, HN

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