There are a lot of people who I admire, but these four stand out:
• Venerable Solanus Casey was the doorman at the monastery. I’m sure that wasn’t what he had in mind when joined the Capuchin Order, and he could have easily become discouraged and melancholy, but he didn’t. He remained generous and welcoming, and more than fifty years after his death people still remember him for his kindness and are pushing to make him a saint.
Personally, I get crabby at times. I’m a little too easily discouraged. It would take a generous editing of my life story to consider me for sainthood. (Also, I’m pretty sure you have to be Catholic.)
When I think of him, I think of a man who crafted something beautiful out of whatever circumstances he found himself in. That’s the kind of person I want to be.
• Tiny Tim is, simply, the epitome of the American Dream. His dream was an odd one- he wanted to sing songs from the 1920s, in white-face, in falsetto, accompanied only by his ukulele- but he worked at it, and he made his dream come true.
He was asked once if he ever tired of singing Tip-toe through the Tulips, and his response was, “Every time I sing that song people smile. Who could get tired of that?”
He gives me hope for my (more pedestrian) dreams. He demonstrated that there’s hope for all of us.
• John Lennon I admire not for his musical talent so much as his persistence. The song didn’t bring world peace? Let’s go to Amsterdam and try a bed-in. That didn’t work? Let’s try a marketing blitz. That didn’t work? On to the next thing.
He wasn’t perfect, but his setbacks never stopped him from trying again. Unfortunately, he was taken from us before he found the combination that worked. It’s on us now to find it.
• St. Joseph— you know- Jesus’ Stepfather– didn’t go out and do Great Deeds. He didn’t feed the multitudes, heal the sick, or even preach great sermons. He just stayed cool when things got weird.
Myself, I would have made a great Hobbit. I’m easily rattled, and not inclined towards adventures.
But Joseph was man who, encountering an Angel of the Lord as he turned in for the night, didn’t bat an eye. When it was time to go to Bethlehem, he just grabbed a donkey and went. No complaining, no hand-wringing, no indulgent freak-outs; just assess the situation and react accordingly. (The Dude abides.)
And now, as I’m looking over my list, the two dominant traits I see are kindness and persistence.
So I know where my work lies.