Thursday, June 13, 2013

2 Miracles to Sainthood

Although I am not Catholic, I have a friend who is, and I have been doing some research on her behalf.  Because I am pretty sure that she may already qualify for sainthood - you just need two miracles and some beautifications.  And while my friend would cringe and deny and refuse to accept that title, I have been counting up miracles, and she fits the bill.

Every time we talk, she has an incredible story to tell.  Like the time her son witnessed a girl being bullied on the elementary school bus and then tormented himself over his failure to intervene.  He confided in a teacher about it, and the teacher's advice ("You did nothing wrong, but you missed an opportunity to do something right") marked a turning point in the young man's life.  He went on to defend the girl on the bus, to her parents' deep gratitude, and helped make a change.  He wrote about his experience for a prep school admission essay, and when his mom read it to me, I immediately offered my daughter's hand in marriage.

Fast forward a few years later, and the young man's brother became the victim of bullying on the same bus.  The bully?  The girl's brother.

Apparently, her experience was not as profound.

And that, I believe, is what tips the scales.  The willingness to receive the message, and the courage to change.

So what makes my friend a saint?  Well, in a nutshell, her experiences alter me, the way I look at life and at people.  It is easy to stop caring sometimes, when your feelings are hurt often enough, or a struggle is simply to big to overcome.  But she never gives up.  She never, ever gives up.

Her first miracle came in the form of a job.  She began working for a neighbor who is an attorney, operating out of his home office.  After taking the job, she soon learned he was going through a divorce and was quite the addict.  On the outside, one would never know she what she was enduring, and I didn't find out until 6 months in, when we were on the phone one rainy Sunday.

What came out of that conversation was that she had been called at home in the wee hours of the morning by this man, threatening suicide.  She had personally driven him to rehab and the mental hospital.  She had helped him through his DUI arrest - which occurred in her cul-de-sac - and she had handled his caseload when he was stoned out of his mind, without a smidgen of guidance. She had contacted his parents in another state - total strangers - to arrange for his after care.  At the time of our conversation, she had helped him move out of his home and was scheduling the cable TV hook up in his apartment.

After digesting detail after astounding detail, I finally said to my friend, "You have done more than any human being on the face of the earth would do.  At some point, he has to figure this out for himself.  You have sacrificed enough of yourself."  To which she replied, "I know.  But he has no one else."

She is his miracle.

Perhaps that's why, last week, when she and her two sons were driving down the road, they stopped for a young man who was panhandling in the median. Without a word, her older son rolled down the window and handed him money out of his own pocket.  They drove off, but could not shake the image - the homeless man seemed young and too well-dressed to be in this predicament.

Returning a short while later, they stopped and talked to him.  He saw the older son's t-shirt, advertising his prep school, and remarked that he had gone there as well.  Had the same coach for track too.  (My friend contacted the school - everything he said was true.). And over lunch, he explained that he was home from college and trying to start a new life, without family support or resources.

My friend gave this intelligent, polite man her husband's phone number, because he volunteers with a homeless ministry. All he has to do is make that call, and his life will change for the better. So far, he hasn't.

It's a God-thing, when the right person is put in your path - you just have to see it.  It reminds me of this story:

This is a story of a man, who was a firm believer of God.
One day it began to rain very heavily. It kept raining and a big flood came.  The man climbed up on the roof of his house, and knew that he would be ok. God would protect him.
It kept raining and now the water had reached his waist. A boat came by and a guy in the boat said: “Hey, jump in. We will take you with us.”

"No thanks,” said the man. “I’m a firm believer in God. He will rescue me.” He sent the boat away.
It kept on raining and now the water had reached his neck. Another boat came by and a guy in the boat said: “You look like you could need some help. Jump in and we will take you with us.”
“No,” said the man. “I’m a firm believer in God. He will rescue me. Don’t worry about me.” The boat sailed away.
It still rained and the water now reached his mouth. A helicopter came by and a guy in the helicopter threw down a rope and said: “Hi there my friend. Climb up. We will rescue you.”

“No,” said the man. “I’m a firm believer in God. He will rescue me. I know he will.” The helicopter flew away.    

It kept on raining, and finally the man drowned.
When the man died, he went to heaven. When entering Heaven, he had an interview with God. After giving a polite greeting and sitting down, the man asked: “Where were you? I waited and waited. I was sure you would rescue me, as I have been a firm believer all my life, and have only done good to others. So where were you when I needed you?”

God scratched his confused looking face and answered: “I don’t get it either. I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”

Do we miss the signs?

My friend's story was still fresh in my mind yesterday as I drove to Target in my little cocoon of a community.  It was 95 degrees outside, the wind felt like 155, and I was finishing some errands.  All of a sudden, I see a woman with a baby on the hot asphalt, begging for food and rent money.  On any given day, I may have passed her by. But because of my friend's example, I went into Target, got her a gift card, and then took it back her with water and bananas I had just bought at the grocery store. She thanked me and immediately gave her child the water. When I returned to Target I was shaking at the thought of that poor overheated baby, and the complete hopelessness in the woman's eyes.  I called my friend. I thanked her for being an example to me. And then I cried in the school supplies aisle.

So, by my count, that's three miracles, more than is needed for sainthood. The miracle of unconditional love, the miracle of charity, and the miracle of inspiration. She's as good as in.

Until next time, keep crowin'  - and take the rope!