A reflection by Mary Lou Edgar for November 6, 2022.
The beginning of November is always busy for me.
It is a time when we have Halloween and, for our family, that starts the holiday season. It is also a time for me to focus on the saints I have looked to for inspiration for most of my life. My favorite saint is St. Theresa of Lisieux. My life couldn’t be any different than hers was, but I consider her a friend. I have read everything she wrote and have been inspired by her short life. Dan and I even named our first child after her.
However, this year I’m not focusing on the upcoming holiday season or anything else but the state of our world. I pray constantly that something will change, but I find myself praying more that I will somehow have the faith to continue to believe something will change. In my life, there have been many times that were terrifying because of ominous threats. Most of the time they were from other countries.
Now, I am more concerned about the threats within our own country.
So, this month as I thought about what I would write, I was trying to decide between saints and the state of our country. I decided to combine them. It feels like I’m cooking wilted lettuce like my mother used to do. I put in too much vinegar, and it tasted so bitter. Sometimes combinations don’t work as well as we would like. But I’m going to try.
Our country is in trouble. Our democratic process is being ignored. Civility and respect – values that were taught by Jesus – are disregarded. We were taught to love our neighbors. Right now, I don’t see much love of neighbors, especially when I’m watching television. Good thing I like to read!
We have people demeaning each other, ridiculing illnesses, belittling work that has been done, and stands that have been taken. There is little or no honesty. People appear to be taking violence in stride. When I grew up, elections were a time when people fought hard for their candidate and what they believed. They didn’t find that it was necessary to mock the other candidates as well as lie about them in a public forum.
The other thing that I struggle with is the amount of money that is spent on this process. We have so many people in need. Imagine what we could do at the borders with immigrants and their families if we had that money to spend on them. It is clear that our elections – as well as most everything else — is fueled by whoever has the most money. At a time when violence and discrimination are common, I can’t help wondering what our children and grandchildren are learning from watching this all around them.
So, where will it end? This is where I find myself looking to the saints.
Many of them lived through horrifying times. They often had to rely on their faith. Some died for what they believed. Our family was blessed to meet Mother Teresa of Calcutta and she wrote a book about how hard her work was and how she often felt despair. Still, she is a saint. I believe all those of us who try to do our best in life are saints. None of us may ever be formally designated as one, but we will be one.
There are so many people I admire and look to help me in difficult times who are saints to me. Many people feel that if you acknowledge saints, you idolize them. I disagree. I see them as people who led good lives, loving their fellow human beings. They tried to do what Jesus taught but they were not perfect. They struggled. Consider Saint Peter. On the night before Jesus died, he said he would never deny Jesus, but he did.
Voting is something each of us can do to preserve the country we love. It doesn’t matter how you vote. What matters is that you take ownership of the country in which we live, that you have courage enough to speak for what you believe, and that you have faith that God will take care of us. To me, that is a saintly thing to do. It shows we care about our fellow human beings, and we trust in God.
And, you can feel good about it because it doesn’t taste nearly as bad as my wilted lettuce.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Lou Edgar, MSS, is a clinical social worker who founded A Better Chance for Our Children, an adoption and foster care agency that works to find permanent homes for children in the foster care system. Mary Lou was the Executive Director of ABCFOC, but she is now retired. She graduated from Neumann University and Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. She and her husband joined SsAM in 2021.