Poking the ceiling of sanctity

I aspired to be a saint.  I remember telling this to a priest when I was a young woman.  He flung his handsome head back and laughed aloud.  And I fell in love with him.

Love makes you a saint.  But love gets complicated by relationship – by attachments, by loyalties, exclusivity.  When you sacrifice your dreams for your spouse’s career, or to take care of your parents, or to nurture your children, that can’t count, can it?  It’s simply required of humans. 

I remember Richard Nixon saying his mother was a “saint”.   Was he so troubled and complex because his mother was a saint?  Did I notice a tinge of unconscious hatred in his pronunciation of the word “saint”?  Is it possible for a parent to be a saint?  It seems to me that once you’re a parent, you’re out of the running for sainthood.  Because you’d betray the world (and sometimes you do) for your children.

It seems to me a saint’s child would work in a neighborhood hardware store by day, saving lives in an EMT ambulance at night.  And the saint-parent would be anonymous.  And probably already dead, as there are so many pitfalls in just living, shopping, paying taxes, acquiescence to a toxic culture, integral to the exploitive military industrial complex.

My love for the priest was unrequited, fortunately. And since those idealistic days my life wound through dark labyrinths, going from darkness to darkness of distortions like a hall of mirrors.  I often crumple into a ball and weep.  Is a saint someone who avoids the labyrinths altogether?   No, you’d have to be in a coma to avoid the labyrinth of the human condition.  Or does a saint summon up some courage, not lose heart, never go mad, and,  looking up, find a weak spot in the ceiling, prying it open?  The saint climbs out and looks down upon the maze, traces its intricacies strategically, and tearing open the covering, lets in the light, so others might make their way more transparently.

I gave up wanting to be a saint a long time ago.  The best I can do now is try not to sin too gravely,  resist evil as much as possible, and, without too much thinking, hope to be ready to make the ultimate sacrifice if called upon in an emergency.  And once in a while it seems appropriate to at least try poking half-heartedly at that dark ceiling.

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5 Responses to “Poking the ceiling of sanctity”

  1. Deb Blakley Says:

    Very true. I wonder about the saints because they were people, like you and me. I wonder how people will remember us when we are gone.

  2. NFD Says:

    A saint is a forgiven sinner – so we are ALL saints.

  3. Su Murdock Says:

    Thanks for poking holes in the ceiling ocassionally

  4. ammaguthrie Says:

    Leonard Cohen says, “There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in, that’s how the light gets in.”

    So, cracks in the ceiling, cracks in our soul, cracks in our personality, breakage through sin and despair … the light still gets in.

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