All Saints Day, canonized, sainthood, saints, St. Paul, Tenley Albright, The Sophia Center for Spirituality
With all the ghosts and goblins back in their hiding places and many candies and other treats already consumed, Christians turn today to the annual celebration of All Saints. When I was young I thought of today as sort of a “consolation prize” for all the people whose names were not listed as official (i.e. “canonized”) saints. I was happy enough to know that St. Ann(e) was the grandmother of Jesus, given to make me a legitimate baptized Christian as my middle name back when I was born. Some people wanted to attribute the sainthood of Lois to St. Louis IX, king of France, but I wasn’t really interested in that, although in a pinch it was rather prestigious.
Today I prefer the perspective of St. Paul who addressed all those who listened to his preaching as saints. Perhaps he was clear on the fact that no one still alive ought to add the title “Saint” as a prefix to their first name, but preferred to assume that we were all working toward that designation and that the possibility still existed until we had taken our last breath.
I was musing on that fact, happy that the seed of a blog post was already in me as I came awake this morning. Just at the same moment for no reason I can imagine, the name Tenley Albright came to mind. That was one of those names that seems as if it were made up by parents who wanted something unique for their child but perhaps it was a family last name that was unfairly thrust upon an innocent baby. Tenley Albright was famous when I was a child, especially known to me because she was born in Newton, Massachusetts as I was. Tragedy was turned into gift for Tenley when she was given skating as physical therapy after being struck with polio at age eleven. She became one of the most decorated skaters in American history and went on to become a surgeon and faculty member at Harvard Medical School.
Certainly Tenley Albright would be in the running for the honor of sainthood, but I’m with St. Paul and my vote is with all those skaters who get up every morning and do their best no matter how many times they fall in practice. That would include all the parents who drive their sons and daughters to practices and events and all the teachers who have those students in their classrooms and all the checkout clerks in the grocery stores who stand on their feet all day facilitating the distribution of the food that farmers (also saints) grow for us, and so on and on and on…to all people of good heart and good cheer who are making their way to eternity and on whom God smiles for their efforts.