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Handkerchiefs

Handkerchiefs

“And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus.” – Revelation 19:9-10

After a massive stroke, Mary Wolfe, a dear friend of mine, died last week. I didn’t meet her until she was in her eighties, and knew her mainly as a paragon of hospitality and generosity. She had that gracious ability that people who are secure in themselves often manifest: she was deeply interested in and appreciative of the knowledge and accomplishments of others. As such she was always welcoming, always free handed with praise and understanding. “Marvelous!” she would exclaim as one of us guests of hers would tell our story du jour. “Isn’t that simply marvelous!” And she would always really mean it.

A teacher and a servant of God all her adult life, she was a Dominican Sister until after Vatican II, at which point she left her community because it was moving too slowly in implementing the Council’s recommended changes. After that she was, among other things, a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education and a college administrator. But I will remember her for her tireless volunteerism here in Fort Collins, working for Bread for the World, the Mission and the library, and being a truly, deeply gracious soul.

Frederick Buechner likens saints to the handkerchiefs that God occasionally drops in God’s holy flirtation with the world. Mary manifested that: a bit of fabric loosed from the hand of the Creator, still carrying the scent of God in its folds, reminding us of the one who courts us, pointing us toward Love. In her humility she makes the business of being a saint seem both possible and necessary for me.

And so it is – for all of us. At our core God shines through each of us like a beacon, offering a holy invitation. We don’t have to be perfect in order to manifest the signs and scents of God – in fact perfection might just get in the way. Instead we must be deeply who we are, securely ourselves, and open in our hearts to the world.

This is the eve of All Saints Day, a time when the veil between worlds is very thin. It is a good time to be in touch with those handkerchiefs God has caused to flutter down in our personal lives. Who will you celebrate tomorrow as a saint in your life? Leave a comment below, telling us: Who influenced you? What did they teach? To whom are you grateful? Why? Who, through word or example, calls out the saint in you? How have you responded?

Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado

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