The group, spearheaded by a dear friend, Gretchen, met over lunch and was filled with a fabulous group of women; our conversations were/are never dull or disappointing. The curriculum was created to challenge us to examine a variety of topics and more fully examine our faith. One of the many works we read was titled Accidental Saints : Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia-Boiz-Weber.
Nadia, a self-described “profane, angry, tattooed, former stand-up comic turned pastor”, is a controversial figure in the Lutheran Church. She is also one of their most popular orators. Her book is a collection of short stories about people she has encountered on her journey and the unlikely gifts she receives from each of them along the way.
In the chapter Whale Spit in the Superdome she shares her encounter with a young, sad, 15-year-old girl with pink bangs named Chloe. Both of them are on a plane headed toward a Lutheran National Youth Gathering where Nadia is the keynote speaker. Nadia confesses to the reader that while she is comfortable sharing her version of the gospel to adults, she was anxious about getting up in front of 35,000 teenagers. She was also irritated to be in the middle seat during this long plane ride.
But as she settled into this space and ministered to this young girl during their plane ride she found the courage to find her voice during the Opening Ceremony the following day. She shares her recollection of the event and says, “As I stood in front of tens of thousands of terrifying teenagers, I knew that I was just talking to Chloe, the girl who didn’t fit.” Chloe was her accidental saint.
I think of my own life and the people who have touched my soul. People like Linda who work at our packaging partner, Planet Access Company. Whenever I walk in for a meeting, check on inventory or just stop by to say “Hi, she inevitably runs out of the warehouse to greet me with a big hug. Given her advanced age and language challenges I’m sure most people would be alarmed by her intimacy, but I find myself taken with her warmth and look forward to seeing her on my visits. I always leave the warehouse a little lighter, more joyful and filled with a sense of grace. She has become one of my accidental saints.
So during this season of Lent I’ve decided it’s not about giving up, but rather giving in. Slowing down, being attentive and practicing non-judgment for you never know when an accidental saint is in your midst.
Author’s Note: Jane and I are excited to support Have Dreams during Autism Awareness month. We will donate 10 percent of every sale from our online store, and Peapod will generously donate $2.00 from the sale of each of our slow cooking meal kits.
Have Dreams is a Chicagoland area non-profit that provides training for adults on the autistic spectrum. We have loved being associated with this wonderful organization and are enthusiastic about the innovative and impactful work they are doing on behalf of adults with autism. So if you have room in your pantry stock up!
“And this is it. This is the life we get here on earth. We get to give away what we receive. We get to believe in each other. We get to forgive and be forgiven. We get to love imperfectly. And we never know what effect it will have for years to come. And all of it…all of it is completely worth it.”