Remembering everyday saints

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2005

Lives can be forever altered by the actions of the everyday saints. Gotta love 'em. They're everywhere.

They may be the type recognized by the churches - people doing the seemingly impossible with limited means, bringing hope and life and sustenance. They are willing to lay down their lives for those living in abject poverty, hunger, oppression or danger.

But there are also the saints living out their lives in a work-a-day world, here in Juneau and in every locale. They are on the planes and ferries we take, where we have our snow tires put on, where we do our banking and receive our medical care. Here are the everyday people who strive to meet others where they are in their journey, touching them in profound or mundane ways. These are people who seek to be present to others, bearing the love of God.

How do they do it? It sounds so straightforward, but how do they get down to it? They certainly are inspired, but how to they keep it going? How do they find in lives so busy or ordered or patterned or constrained or challenged, the time and the way to cleave to a loving God?

One concrete way comes from those who have lived more than we have and those who have come before us in ages past; they practiced at their work. This is not the "practice makes perfect" kind of practice; this is practice make permanent. This is an everyday seeking to know the will of God in their lives and earnestly desiring the will to carry that out.

This is a living practice that has as its source grace born of the spirit and as its manifestation mindfulness to the needs of others. The efforts may be as simple as a heartfelt "thanks" or "sorry," but this small gesture may significantly alter the path of one who so needed that loving kindness.

These wise ones also came together in community and held dearly to the words given to show us how to reach to the great need - the need in each other and the need in ourselves.

The series of verses in the Gospel of Mark that begin with "Blessed are" are really at the core of the matter. These are the verses that deal with the universal human condition, with our abiding need for comfort in our sadness, for gentility in relational matters, for enough unspoiled food and clean water, for forgiveness when we've made mistakes, for striving toward purity of heart, for peace and justice, and for the hope of heaven in a world of prejudice.

And this human condition transcends time as evidenced by a fast-forward to the 1960s and '70s when the pioneering psychologist, Abraham Maslow, did his work in the formal classification and ordering of these same needs: bodily, safety and security needs; relational needs; and needs to be both aware of self and go beyond that awareness to help others on their journey.

So it is for us, having thousands of years of example, to concertedly set aside time to listen with our hearts for God's voice in the plethora of daily, weekly, monthly routine and ad hoc events. It may be brief, it may be unstructured, it may be formal or extended, but the time of rest and reflection in and with God is our sustenance and that sustenance allows us to carry forward with renewed strength in ministering to the needs of the many we meet each day whose very course of life is dependent on the fruits of the spirit working through our lives.

• Kim Laird is a member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

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