In anticipation of All Saints Day this Friday, our bedtime routine included a riveting rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
After Shea, my three-year old toddler, marched and danced around the living room, I asked her, “Do you know what a saint is?”
Shea stopped, smiled, and said, “St. Francis.”
This answer surprised me. Yes we talk about faith and God, we pray as often as we can, and our rotation of songs include some spiritual hymns- but I stopped and wondered, where did this answer come from?
So I asked her, “how do you know St. Francis.”
She smiled, and proceeded to continue marching before she moved on to making a magic trick with the cover of a misplaced Tupperware.
Then I remembered…It wasn’t the image of Francis by our front door, or the several times I pointed out my old high school, St. Francis Prep, as we drove home from a favorite restaurant that is several blocks away.
It was a song- “Brother Son, Sister Moon.”
Earlier this month, before October 4th, the feast of this great saint, I played this song as a way to invite Shea into a relationship with a spirit that remains great teacher to me in my faith journey.
For about a week or so after, Shea would ask that we play “the God song,” where she would glance out the window as the gentle medley provided a backdrop to the scenery of the changing colors of the falling leaves.
(Full disclosure: our typical, and eclectic, car playlist include the familiar Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle, some country, Queen, and Motown)
As she uttered the words “St. Francis” this evening, I felt as if Shea knew one of my dear friends. As her parent- her first teacher- there is no greater lesson than sharing with her God’s love. And the saints model that love by allowing the one Spirit to shine through their words and actions.
Like the great saints, Shea too reveals that love of our God. As children do, they live authentically with joy and honesty, all as they value relationships and time spent with those they love.
I am truly blessed to walk with the saints, including those in my home, in my family, in those I call friends and mentors, in my communities (especially at St. John’s University), in my students, and with those saints that went before us- those who now speak to us in the spiritual community that is God’s love.
I can only pray that I, too, can be counted in that number of God’s friends who reveal God’s unconditional love to those I encounter.