The Hidden Life

Over the weekend, despite UGA’s gut-wrenching loss to Tennessee (after all, college football is totally not my LIFE), I finished reading My Life with the Saints by James Martin, SJ. You might ask, what’s a good Protestant girl like me doing reading a Catholic book about Saints? Well, first of all, it was a PRIZE for a bit of silliness back in the summer. But as I read it, it turned into a GIFT.

Unlike some, I rarely have time to SIT & READ. I steal time, while I wait at the soccer field or the school or the church, waiting to pick up my son to ferry him to the next activity. I found myself getting to the appointed places early, so I’d have more time to steal.

Martin is a good storyteller. He writes very well, in a chummy, conversational style; it’s like he’s sitting across the booth at the Waffle House telling you his latest story. From his childhood to far-reaching places, he thoughtfully weaves in his own personal history with these saints. Since I’m not Catholic, I’d only heard of a few. What struck me with each one (each saint had their own chapter), was that they were ORDINARY people with ORDINARY hang-ups. Just like you and me. Yet they were elevated to the place of being a prime example of how to live your life for God. No matter where you are or what your circumstances are.

The chapter on Joseph especially struck me – we really don’t know much about Joseph, a few mentions in the New Testament. That’s it. Obviously, he’d passed on before the wedding in Canaan, where Jesus performed his first miracle, because he wasn’t mentioned. And you know he WOULD have been there, if he was alive. Weddings included the entire village. But we can see his influence as Jesus’ earthly father. That’s the hidden life. Others see and benefit from the fruit of that work, even though it was behind the scenes.

Millions of people have a hidden life. Caring for sick parents/children, anonymous contributions, random acts of kindness, volunteers at shelters/hospices/hospitals/charities/churches. On and on and on. While I was pondering this, it occured to me that many bloggers have the hidden life as well. Doing good work exposing lies & hypocrisy, promoting goodness, spreading The Gospel, helping others when they are hurting, praying without hesitation – all under the cloak of anonymity and expecting nothing in return. Each of these small gestures, cyber or not, proves this world is not lost yet. God uses all of us, regardless of which church door (or even not) we pass through, to work good things in His name.

Thank you Anchoress, for your sweet GIFT.

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