My definition of a saint, a spiritual giant, is someone who makes other people holy, just by their presence. Someone who engenders peace in other people’s hearts, who calls forth beauty and goodness and faithfulness in other people’s lives. Nurturing your own holiness, your own peace, calling forth your own beauty and goodness and faithfulness is a very good thing. No one can coax out of others what they have not found deep in their own heart. But the miracle happens when someone receives grace enough to become what we might call a Spiritual Hot Spot—a radiating, signaling presence that blesses anyone in range.
That miracle happened in my friend Barrie, who died a few weeks ago. After one disastrous chemo that promised little anyway, she decided against treatment. She would live her days.
Pam and I visited Barrie and her husband Patrick many times over the course of her illness. We would always read a poem and then sit for twenty minutes of Centering Prayer—pure silence that allows us to drift into the Presence. A great clock ticked in the background and the dog lay still as a monk. We would lay on hands and pray for Barrie’s healing…in time, for her final healing. Then in what I knew was a holy communion, we would share the latest juice that Barrie had pressed from beets, carrots and kale and ate from a platter of grapes and apricots and cheese.
Invariably I left feeling uplifted and encouraged—and I knew it was because I had been in the presence of a dying woman. How odd is that? Normally, that kind of exchange extracts energy from us. But Barrie’s deep faith and confidence spilled over onto all of us in that room. She was both clear-eyed about her impending death (at the end she was praying, “Why are you taking so long, God?”), and immediately present to this moment, and all the gracious and precious possibilities it held. Without a word, she was showing us the way, the truth and the life.
Two questions, then. Who is that Spiritual Hot Spot for you? And could you pray for the grace to be that for someone else?