Saints with Rosy Cheeks

2 Corinthians 4:7

My saints are not on pedestals. They do not look down at me condescendingly from stained-glass windows, or by their lofty words from behind rostrums fill me with awe. There they would be so still and cold, so remote, so apart from the good earth and the experiences that wring both tears and laughter from me.

My saints have rosy cheeks and warm, kind hands; they are jolly! They are near, too. Sometimes they are in the next office, in the shop around the corner or in the flat downstairs.

One of them all through her girlhood wrestled to control, by the grace of God, what seemed to be an uncontrollable temper. God and my saint were the victors.

“I hope,” she said, “that I shall have a large family. I’ll come with my six boys to see you and they’ll tramp, tramp, tramp all over your immaculate house.”

She had four children. Three were not the noisy boys who were to have invaded my home, but gentle little girls. Within a few days of each other two died; a few years later a third had left her.

My saint did not come out with placid face and unearthly calm. Her grief staggered us and ravished her strength. But God and my saint conquered again. She stole out to find other little children. She became a young people’s sergeant-major establishing three Bible home companies, one for each dead child. One was formed from the Islamic population of a city, to whom the Christian message had never before been taken.

Some of my saints are young. One is only 14, a lad who tends his invalid mother at night and contends with a drunken father by day. Some are students with brows unduly furrowed by the effect of study accompanied by what, at times, must look like a losing battle with poverty. Some are mothers who never mention mystical experiences, yet have established the kingdom in their homes. Another of my saints is a Salvation Army officer, in an unromantic situation, who has not attained the recognition that many self-proclaimed “saints” demand, but in a faraway land to a great company of people, she is a light in the darkness.

Sometimes I wonder why my saints care to company with me. I expect it is because they do not know they are saints. And the world is rather slow in discovering it too. Can it be that we still prefer the stained-glass window kind with their white, solemn faces, smooth, untried feet and hidden hearts?

Catherine Baird, Evidence of the Unseen

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