Every Friday morning except for last week, the Saint of Stenton Avenue stands in front of Martin Luther King High School. I have no idea what her name is but this is what I’ve come to call her. She is of a certain age, most likely retired. She is well-dressed and always wears a hat. Not a regular hat; a church lady hat. She takes her role seriously.
The Saint is sometimes on the eastbound side of Stenton, sometimes on the west. But she is always there on Fridays holding up her cross equipped with a big, bright, blinking orange LED light. She makes the sign of the cross over and over probably hundreds of times but the only one that matters to me is the one directed at me as I drive into work. And she wasn’t there last Friday.
I have a regular spiritual practice and a relationship with a god of my understanding but am not a regular church-goer. After many years of attending as a member of my church choirs, I just stopped. I am now a “Chreaster”, or CEO (Christmas and Easter only).
I am not a hypocrite or a heathen although I have not always lived my life in a manner consistent with the moral high ground. And I swear a lot – but not as much as I used to so I’m taking that as a win. But I do have a firm belief that there is someone/something else in charge and I pray daily (sometimes more). It brings me great relief.
I also believe that my higher power sends me signs in different forms; people, pets, warm sun, the ocean, the smell of autumn, good food. And The Saint of Stenton Avenue is one of those signs. I don’t know what blessings she bestows; safe travel on Philadelphia’s roads (much needed), peace (ditto), eternal life. The blessing I receive is to treat others kindly, to enter into my work with joy (some days this is very hard), and to know that someone or something is watching over me. On Fridays, it is The Saint.
So, when I don’t see The Saint, I worry. First that she is okay, and second, that in the absence of her blessing, will I be okay? I choose to believe that where ever she is, The Saint is sending out her blessings to all, most importantly to me. Because I really need them.