If we are lucky, sometime not long after we die, someone will be inspired by nostalgia and grief to say that we were saints. Most of us are those kinds of people.
Then there are people who are so generous and selfless that we call them saints while they are still with us. We tell them to their faces that they are saints.
My community at work lost someone like that this week. I won’t get into details because the story is not mine to tell. The story I have to tell is about how the living, breathing saints among us set my faith on fire, how my spirituality is all about the models of holiness shining their light on the world.
When I think of the people who are saints to me, they are the ones who have loved me, who have done their part to fill the abyss hollowed out by my secret conviction that I am not worthy of love. They are the ones who do what ought to be done without complaining, not because they are biting their tongues but because they are joyful. They are the ones who take great risks, opening their hearts to people.
I suppose there is a danger that this makes my faith too dirty, too rooted in the muck of the world. I’d rather have my roots in the ground than try to hang hooks in the clouds. I believe more every day when I see the goodness of the people around me. My heart grows larger when they offer their care to me.
Does it dishonor God to so love people? I don’t believe it could, since God himself became human and lit up the world just like the most wonderful of our saints.
I rarely think much of the afterlife, but I’m hoping we can bring heaven to the here-and-now. The people with me who work for this same goal inspire my faith. I am grateful.