Saturday, October 31, 2015

Unintended Saint

I moved into a new home last year and to my surprise, the house came with a saint! This sweet little saint draped and entrenched in blue, right there in my backyard. I am guessing, it’s the virgin Mary. I’m guessing because I grew up Protestant, in a Spanish speaking Pentecostal church where there was no imagery besides Sunday school illustrations. Sightings of such man-made icons, like this one,  conjure up visions of my childhood church members screaming IDOLATRIA!

So when I was confronted with this icon in my yard, I didn’t know what quite to think or do. “Should we remove it?” I thought. I mean, we’re not Catholic, it doesn’t mean anything to us. But as time went on, we just let it stay. She was there first, by all means, who were we to remove her, she wasn’t harming anyone or anything.

As time went on I began to feel close to this saint. I would worry that she was getting rained or snowed on in the winter or that the wild greenery of the summer would practically bury her. I know she wasn't real, but I began to have a certain kind of affection for her. She has become a part of the family. Her presence in the backyard became palpable. 

I live in a largely Catholic neighborhood, or at least it used to be largely Catholic. Now there are people from everywhere with various beliefs living here, but Catholic remnants still remain. I see saints in some of the houses on my block. 

There is also a big Catholic church on my block as is the school that accompanies it. These, together, practically take up the entire street.   

This was actually taken late at night

I have to say that I enjoy this holy presence in my neighborhood and it's not only images, but holy texts that abound as one passes the church. This "open 24 hours" sign intrigued me. I was like, "what? The church is open even at 3 am?” I don't know how they did it but this seemed right. I don't know if I would ever need the church at 3 am but just to know that it was, well, this Pentecostal girl was already won over. 

This "come to me " sign meets me those mornings I'm scheduled to work in the museum, on on my way to the train. What a great reminder right there in the open. I like these holy markers, along the way, these spiritual sign posts make me feel and desire the holy and otherworldly in my life. 

Maybe the Catholic Church was onto something. The Nicene Creed talks about God being in the visible and invisible. The Catholic Church got the visible part right. My Protestant background was more interested in the  invisible (except when it came to women’s dress, that’s another post). But in the real world, the invisible becomes visible through things seen with the naked eye; art, icons, church architecture, sacred texts, you and I.  All these bring us a little closer to God, especially the last two, when we do indeed act like Him. 

So yes, we kept the saint. I like seeing this God symbol in my backyard as we eat, as the kids play, as I screen print and make art in this open space. In my mundane, daily life, God is there, and this sweet little saint tells me so everyday.