I love the way the light streams into the cathedral nave in the late afternoon. The glass refracts the light into the blues and oranges which architects reserve for feminine, nurturing spaces like churches, nurseries, hospitals and dining rooms. They portray saints, tall and elegant in their great vestments even though most are saints precisely because of their humility and their desire to work quietly for their love of God.
A friend recently asked me the name of my favorite saint; and I was suddenly and clearly struck with the answer – though hesitant to offer it, concerned that it would sound too pious.
My favorite saints are those who labor in the background. The church archivist who simply waits to be of service to an inquiring writer. The committee chair willing to face resistance to do a new thing. The single mother who choses to live in poverty, working three terrible night jobs rather than stay in an abusive relationship with a man whose next punch might hit her son. The father whose loveless marriage is where he chooses to stay until it catches its second wind or the kids graduate. The priest who is known more for his love of the poor than his love of the church. The nun who took vows because she wanted as much time with her Savior as possible and found that her sisters were kind and gentle. The priest who works long and hard all day, choosing to be accept late night calls to the hospital rather than appointments to boards strategically chosen to advance a career. The deacon whose love of the homeless will be the only thing she is remembered for and the only thing that will last centuries. The child who imagines she has heard God’s voice and who ignores the adult nay-sayers who suggest she eat less pizza before bed so as to avoid such hysterics. The missionary whose love of the people she teaches is making her a legend entirely unobserved by the church.
These are my favorite saints. They all have names. But we do not know most of them. Their names are not on walls or etched in glass or on the spines of great books. But their names are held by God like a wedding bouquet in a procession of the Bridegroom and his Church. And the people weep with joy.