Have you ever met a saint? Someone who was so perfect that you knew they were a shoo-in for the pearly gates? I have met several people that would fit the bill, but today, All Saints Day, I would like to tell you about the first one.
I was about 16 when I went on a weekend retreat with some friends to Falls Creek. Now, Falls Creek is a youth camp in the Arbuckle mountains south of Oklahoma City sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention of Oklahoma. For those of you not from Oklahoma, you may not see the problem here. For a good Catholic boy to go to a Baptist camp was a tad scandalous for both the boy (me) and the friends that invited him. It seemed like everyone either ignored me or spent their time trying to convert me. It was exhausting.
Then I met her. She was an elderly woman who had a grandchild in the group and was acting as a chaperone. I am ashamed to say that I do not remember her name, but I do remember the wonderful way she affected my life. Welcoming and without criticism she and I sat and talked about a lot of things including our faiths, their differences and their similarities. Through our talks, I discovered things lacking in my faith, and she showed me how to use those things within myself. For example, I had always known that Jesus died for everyone, but somehow did not extend that to “he died for me”. I also learned that Jesus would walk with me through the trials of my life if I invited him. These two realizations of a personal relationship with Him have stayed with me ever since.
As I left our conversation, I felt more at peace than I had ever felt in my young life. There is no doubt in my mind that she was a woman of God, a saint. I have often reflected on that weekend and the person that made it special. My regret is that I never told her what a difference she made in my life.
Saints are all around us, walking with us, showing us the way. If only we watch and listen.