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Daily Devotional • March 30

Hannah Howland
Surprising Saints
A Reading from Psalm 131

1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
3  O Israel, hope in the Lord
    from this time on and forevermore. 

Novelist Leon Bloy wrote, “The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” For many of us, particularly in this season of Lent, we feel the weight of that failure — the distance between us and sainthood. In our modern world sainthood has never felt more remote. The tasks of our daily lives dehumanize or simply bore us. 

God once asked Moses “What is in your hand?” It was a staff, the boring tool of his tedious trade. God thought that staff was the perfect thing, and with it in hand Moses led the people of God. He became a saint. 

In Psalm 131 the psalmist looks to her own hands and sees an image of her soul before the Lord. The screaming child finally soothed and asleep in her tired arms is no hindrance to her union with God. She sees in this child the quiet she yearns for before the Lord; the humility of sleep is the relation she desires to her Maker. We are those guilty of raising our eyes too high, of concerning ourselves with matters too great, when God is calling each of us into a particular mode of sainthood, altogether familiar and altogether unimaginable. 

What is in your hand, surprising saints of the Lord? 

A picture of holiness might not be too far from us. The raw materials for sainthood are near at hand — they are the stuff of our lives.

Hannah Howland lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, Curtis. She is in her final semester at Duke Divinity School and worships at All Saints Anglican Church.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. David's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Cocoa Beach, Florida
The Diocese of Ruwenzori – The Church of the Province of Uganda
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