Notes from Jan

Saints Below

November 5, 2019

Growing up Baptist left me with few saintly thoughts.  Saints were for Catholics who needed to be cautioned about idolatry.  Now that I’m older and attend an Episcopal church, I recognize saints and sinners reside in and outside all churches.

The saints I’ve known won’t  nestle in nooks as icons in churches or cathedrals. These saints below show up as neighbors, laden with kindness, others enter and become forever friends. Without fanfare some saints  march  into my life wearing aprons, toting casseroles and cakes to comfort and nourish body and soul when life’s too tough to swallow, some come laden with shovels to clear safe passage , or switch out screen for storm doors when winter muscles in,  still others come bearing words to lift sagging spirits.

Some saints set-up flannel graphs for storytelling, others wore hospital garb to tend wounds seen and hidden. Then there are those who never let you leave empty-handed. Their generous hospitality sends you home with “a little something” for another meal.  Who hasn’t sensed  healing from those saints who simply come and sit in beside you in holy silence.None were perfect, as we suppose saints to be.  All flawed.  Someday we can ask Saint Peter, the patron saint of the Gloucester fishermen.

What was common to all?

God’s lavish love.

Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Requiem  Sunday evening,   left me challenged  to be grateful to saints above and below, to heed their lives, not for sainthood’s sake, but for the love of Jesus, the good of my family, community and this world God loves.

Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “God creates out of nothing.  Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.”

Look around.

Holy ordinary saints live among us.




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  • Reply Carolyn Sylvester November 5, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Nice thoughts for a VERY rainy afternoon. But, not snowing!!!!
    Thanks for your posts. They always inspire me. You are a Saint, yourself. Your days as Joy Bible Study leader at Grace Chapel inspired many of us. You’re “paying it forward” in a backwards way by allowing others to be saints to you! Blessings on your day.

  • Reply Radina Welton November 5, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    This former Baptist, now Methodist-wishing-to-be-Episcopalian (just last Sunday attended Evensong, aTaize prayer service at a big Episcopal Church in Burlington, and loved it!), says Amen to all of that. Saints by way of imperfect, forgiven sinners.

  • Reply Jeri November 5, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Love your turn of a phrase, the depth of detail in such colorful words Jan. You are such an inspiration to so many! Thank you again for your timely reminders to observe what is right in front of each of us.

  • Reply Sharon Wolgemuth November 5, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    Our Molly Grace was born on All Saints Day. So thankful for your words Jan. We are all forgiven sinners, struggling each day to hear and answer God’s call.

  • Reply Dale November 6, 2019 at 11:57 am

    There is a billboard on the way to the airport which reads: “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” However, I tend to know more about, and pay more attention to, your sins than my own.

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Wendy Lane November 6, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Hallelujah indeed!!

  • Reply James B Griffin November 15, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    As a thoughtful docent explained to me in one of the Catacombs in Rome, “Pagans believe in two kingdoms- a kingdom of the living, and a kingdom of the dead. Christians believe in only one kingdom- the Kingdom of God.”

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