When I was a teacher, I would tell my students that it was important to dream. That really no one, including you, knows who you might become. At the same time, I would tell them, we are only human. We have limits. There is something called reality. If you are two feet tall, you are not going to star in the NBA. Accepting your limits is ok. It doesn’t mean you stop dreaming.
I have a child who wants to become a saint. Let’s just say, it’s a long shot.
It hurts to watch her struggles. Her dream is painful to me. Part of me wants to tell her to give it up until she can at least listen to her mother, but something tells me to keep my mouth shut. There are worse things to dream about.
I want some comfort. I want cold hard facts. Tell me that Mother Teresa once had a thing for stealing chocolate milks, and I’m there. Mostly. Maybe add in that Mother Teresa lied like a cheap rug. Was a master storyteller, practicing her art at a tender age, before she taught us how to live.
If sainthood requires compliance, this mother superior sees trouble ahead. Things like, do not go into my room without permission, are routinely ignored despite consequences. Nail polish, scissors, or a button are deemed worth suffering for. I went through the boots last week and found something to fit everybody. Young saint deemed her grey boots unsuitable. She hides sneakers in her bag because they are boy boots and she would rather have her toes frozen than inside them.
Give it up, child! I want to scream. It is hopeless even without your dream.
She frustrates me , confounds me. Her dream to be a saint is beautiful, but it hurts to think about. Her teachers couldn’t possibly do anything but laugh at the idea.
This summer at the bus shelter, I discovered chaos. My recycling had been raided. Plastic bottles filled with this and that were on the floor. The benches were covered with piles of papers, disheveled, some also on the floor. I clenched my teeth, sick of the messes and picked up a few of the pictures. They had little money signs taped on them. 25 cents. 1$. A sign said, “Art sale.” Beside it was a labelled jar. “Money for the poor,” it said.
Sitting in a parking lot yesterday, I realized that I was being asked to give more than clear re-direction, and considered consequences. Against the odds, in the face of everything that laughs, I need to believe in her dream.
I didn’t arrive home to angels dancing. I arrived home to stories that didn’t add up. Today I will drive her to school and stand with her while she makes amends. Others may rightly shake their heads in frustration. I am sad at her choices, but I will hold her hand today and believe that this little girl will someday be a saint.
(Fasting from all things masculine as prayer for the sick? Stolen art for the needy? anybody? anybody?)
No, really, I’m going to believe it. We both need me to.