Finding Angels Unawares

There are in life some gentle folk who have the ability to see the best in others, to find God’s face in every encounter. These saints see the best in us, even when we know how far short we are falling from the images they seem to see in us.
Maybe they’re born with it, but I suspect their ability to find God in the darkness is a hard-won craft, grown from years of dedicated practice and countless hours of diligent prayer.
Throughout my life, I have been blessed to have known a few of these people. One of the earliest ones I remember was my High School Latin teacher, Ms. Marion T. Page. Surely, she knew what rascals we were, but she treated us as if we were the most honest, most serious students any teacher had ever had. Even when she caught Dudley Griffin and me skipping class, her response to us was to pretend that we absolutely could not have been up to anything except behavior of the highest principles. As a result, we tried to live up to her opinion of us. Half a century later, her unearned trust in me continues to impact my life.
There are a few of those people in my life at present, thanks be to God. It would embarrass them to be named here, and each of them would surely deny the honor, but they are of infinite value to me. Whenever I am around one of these special ones, they show by their actions the presence of the Holy in every other soul. When I am quick to judge and criticize, they find the hurt, bring out the good, and find spirit enough for prayer, even for those I would be quick to name as ‘enemy.’
For all of you who have cultivated the ability to find the face of Christ in the most unlovable of people, thank you. Thank you for your example, may it teach me to practice your skill so that I might begin to live up to your opinion. And thank you for finding that tiny spark of Christ in me, as well. You may not know it, but you have pulled me out of the miry bog of despair many times and renewed my awareness of God’s unending grace for me.
May God grant me the ability to reflect a fraction of the grace you have taught me.

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