Saints Dressed in Street Clothes

We look for saints in all the wrong places.

We expect to see them venerated in paintings or memorialized in stone. We want them to stay placidly commemorated and confined to such spaces. They are much more sanitary that way.

However, what we need are saints dressed in street clothes living next door. Saints who live beautifully messy ordinary lives buying groceries, paying bills, supporting neighbors, traveling to and from work, celebrating victories, grieving loss, believing, and doubting. These saints are the normal people who experience and reveal the presence of the divine in the everyday.

Ruth Baldwin is one of those saints.

I don't know how often Ruth celebrated mass, and I have no idea if she regularly prayed her rosary. What I do know is that she had more than enough love for all of her children as well as the dozens and dozens who spent hot summer afternoons on her screened in porch eating homemade fruit juice popsicles. Ruth understood what it meant to offer compassion to her neighbors, friends, and strangers. She made tiny finger sandwiches with the crust cut off for Tupperware parties and Friendship Club, and she willingly shared her amazing Hawaiian cake with delicious cream cheese icing whenever any of us were celebrating, mourning, or simply just because.

Ruth Baldwin is a saint for all who were blessed enough to have known her.

This All Saints Day, I give thanks for the life of Ruth Baldwin along with all of those everyday saints who transform our lives and our world through the manner in which they live their beautifully messy ordinary lives.


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