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Non-Plaster Saints

Who wants to be holy?  The very word has fallen into disrepute—holier-than-thou, holy Joe, holy mess.  And "saint" comes to mean plaster saint, somebody of such stifling moral perfection that we would run screaming in the other direction if our paths ever crossed.  We are such children, you and I, the way we do such terrible things with such wonderful words.  We are such babes in the woods the way we keep getting lost.

And yet we have our moments.  Every once in a while, I think, we actually long to be what out of darkness and mystery we are called to be; when we hunger for holiness even so, even if we would never dream of using the word.  There come moments, I think, even in the midst of all our cynicism and worldliness and childishness, maybe especially then, when there is something about the saints of the earth that bowls us over a little.  I mean real saints.  I mean saints as men and women who are made not out of plaster and platitude and moral perfection but out of human flesh.  I mean saints who have their rough edges and their blind spots like everybody else but whose lives are transparent to something so extraordinary that every so often it stops us dead in our tracks.  Light-bearers. Life-bearers.

- Frederick Buechner, Secrets In The Dark: A Life in Sermons (HarperOne, 2007), p. 157.