Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Saint Teresa

I share October 15 with Saint Teresa of Avila, my self-designated patron saint.

I love her because she was a sassy Spaniard born just as the Reformation was taking hold in Europe. She ran away from home to become a nun and, while sick later in life, started experiencing ecstasy and visions. Teresa was the first woman to be named a Doctor in the Church and dedicated her life to caring for the poor. Her bare feet were signs of service among those with no shoes. My saint’s writings are clever and sarcastic, often referencing her casual conversations with God the Creator and Jesus.

Her story has dark corners and strange twists, which continue to remind me that even the Church’s saints are children of a fallen humanity and entirely relatable. She never lived as though her faith confined her, but instead with great freedom and bold passion.

I knew nothing of Teresa until I spent a week at the hermitage in St. Francis, MN three years ago. Each cottage is named after a saint and the small table inside contains information about that life and service. I learned that her day on the church calendar is my birthday. I learned that she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind to God or wrestle with the strangeness of life in two kingdoms. I learned something about the patience she so often speaks of, being in silence and tranquility for 48 hours.

So I cannot help but think of her today – so many are celebrating her with the same fondness I do – and I’m honored to share today with a woman I so admire.

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