Before I move on from my January saint of the month and share February’s, here are a few thoughts resting on my heart inspired, in part, by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. It’s a confluence of ideas, of sort — Old Testament figure meets the first American-born saint who then collide with a pop culture icon. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but work with me here.
Let’s start with the pop culture icon, Alan Rickman.
I confess, I love Die Hard, and I’ve watched the movie too many times to remember. Yet as many times as I’ve seen it, if asked who played the part of the villain, I would not have been able to come up with the actor’s name. You know, this guy.
Turns out his name is Alan Rickman, and I only learned that recently when social media exploded with the news of his death. The day he died, I read the following on Twitter.
Rickman’s first film was Die Hard. He was 42, proving you’re never too old to start something new and be one of the best in the world at it.
— Rory Cashin (@roarEcashin) January 14, 2016
Given I turn 40 in a few months, I fervently endorse the notion that great things can happen to any one of us after 42 years of life. I remember when my mom turned 40. Her birthday falls during the Christmas season, and we were visiting my grandparents in Texas that year. We threw a party for her at Pizza Hut and invited this guy.
Now here I am, nearing forty and pregnant with Schmidt baby number four, and I sure hope my mom hasn’t held onto this guy waiting to regift it to one snarky daughter.
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Now to Abraham. You know, the one with many sons.
At 75, Abram was called by God to take his barren wife Sarai to leave everything behind and set out on a pilgrimage to some mumbled nowhere. Abram scoffed that God could take a thin arthritic boned man and an ancient wasteland of a woman, who collectively didn’t have a relationship with this unknown God, and promise that they would make a great nation. Yet Abram submitted and answered: “You come late, Lord, very late, but my camels leave in the morning.”
That last line sums up life, doesn’t it? Don’t be frightened if God startles, confuses, or greatly surprises you. Get going. Have faith. Honor the journey.
And now, to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Most saints have their mark, some distinguishing quality, virtue, or heroic act. As I’ve intentionally journeyed with Elizabeth Ann Seton for the month, I see her hallmark as faith — a faith of Abraham.
Elizabeth story still floors and inspires me. A young, beautiful woman from a family of means marries a dashing young man and together they begin a lovely life and welcome five children. Then life comes crashing down. Her husband’s company goes bankrupt, and then he is struck with illness and dies, leaving Elizabeth a young, penniless widow. God then has the nerve to call Elizabeth to convert to Catholicism during a time in America when opposition to the Church was a going thing (if it’s ever stopped). God tells her to GO! Go to Baltimore and start a Catholic school. Go! She does and the rest is history. Elizabeth’s faith allowed her to get going. She honored the journey, and we here in America are abundantly grateful to her for saying yes to God’s call.
When I was in my twenties and in grad school, I met a woman at church who had birthed five children during her 30s. I thought she was crazy – an entire perinatal decade. 10 years of the constant pre, post, and everything in between. Awesome family, and I admired her greatly (more so now!), but I just thought she was a little nuts when it came to the baby factory thing. I think of that woman a lot now. Granted, she had one more child than I’ll soon have, but I certainly never envisioned having my own perinatal decade.
God’s crazy and greatly surprising call.
Get going. Have faith. Honor the journey. Be inspired by Abraham, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, maybe even Alan Rickman.
“You come late, Lord, very late, but my camels leave in the morning.”