Growing up I never much liked the idea of 'The Saints' - setting some followers of Jesus apart, distinct from the rest, perhaps tinged by the bias conveyed by the arrogance often found in western evangelical thought; thankfully my arrogance is slowly being eroded over the years. Perhaps 'The Saints' serve as heroes of the faith, people we can look to for inspiration and even be discipled by their stories, their legacies.
Today my dear friend Nanay Aning passed away, I did not get to see her before she died which causes more grief than her passing its self. I know that in her passing she rests and will rise in glory to live in the fullness of life on the new earth at the end of all time and into all time.
Nanay Aning lived in a humble home, no bigger than most people's bathrooms and some people's bath tubs. She prayed the Lord's prayer everyday and she meant it... like, really meant it. She asked her daddy in heaven for her daily bread and her daily bread would turn up; people would bring her some food or it would just appear in her pot. Nanay always showed hospitality to guests from her daily provision, I never left without having being fed with something, from rice to penny sweets to malted chocolate drink.
Nanay chopped her own wood for the fire even though she was in her mid eighties and could have weighed no more than 5 or 6 stone. She cleaned, cooked & cared for the little ones that would enter her home or play around the area she was working in.
Everything that Nanay did she did with a smile on her face and a glow about her whole person. At every moment of the day, seemingly, she laughed, joked and continued to commune with God in prayer.
On my travels over the years I have met world renowned speakers, celebrities, geniuses, people at the cutting edge of innovation and many people who have reminded me of Jesus. Even after having experienced all these people there is one that stands above them all in providing me with inspiration and an up close view of Jesus. Spending time with her was pure joy. From sitting in her house hearing stories of people healed and her husband raised from the dead to watching her score a swish on the basketball court and heading out for street food in Cogon market. Every moment was precious and an education in living in simple obedience, submission and poverty and yet authority, freedom and abundance.
Nanay Aning held in tension and the displayed the dynamism found in the paradox of being fully human, a paradox that reflects the nature of God himself/herself. A paradox that finds beauty in the dirt, adoption in abandonment and ultimately life in death.
A little old woman, living in a shack, in a shanty community on the little loved and under explored island of Mindanao in the Philippines is, to me, a saint.
I like the idea of The Saints.
Rest in Peace Dear Mother of the Faith and Rise Again in Glory!