Even the hopeless have their saints

We have been friends for a long time.

We have been friends for a long time.

Rita, Jude, Gregory and Philomena — like all friends who know me well — have been with me through the best and the worst.

Friends are most needed when things aren't going so well.

It's their area of expertise because they are Roman Catholic doctrine patron saints of lost and hopeless causes.

I have been in that condition from time to time. We all feel that way when romance goes sour or when dreams are derailed. The worst of the worst is when you don't like what you see in what becomes warped introspection.


My friends hung out with me the other day.

Son Sam made the statement that often organized religion has done great harm and therefore he declines to participate in it. He rattled off its sins — the Crusades, the judgmental nature that turns young people off and knowing that some southern churches used the Bible to justify slavery and racism.

Faith and religion are twins but yet not related.

I'm uncomfortable rising to the defense of organized religion, but I responded that during most of what has become moldy history, churches and their members have called out bigots and haters and helped millions by doing their God's good will.

Because faith and religion issues are too big to wrap my mind around, I shrink it to the personal level.

The starting point was the car accident. I was driving too fast on a narrow gravel road, lost control and skidded along the iron that kept the car from plunging 30 feet into a rocky creek bed. The passenger-side front door wouldn't open, so I kicked it hard. It was midnight and if it would have opened the fall to the rocks would certainly have finished me.

Not that I would have minded terribly at the time.

Life — the totaled car still had payments left to make — seemed stacked against me.


Mother, whose faith in guardian angels was strong, assured me that I made mine work overtime.

Sam appreciated the story, but added that God — despite his supposed all-goodness — allows bad things to happen. People pray for a cancer cure and it doesn't happen and car accidents cause incredible heartbreak.

Where's God then?

My four friends told me that hope still existed. Rita convinced me.

Legend has it, and one must depend on it since the story dates back to the 1400s, Rita had a miserable life. Her parents arranged a marriage to an unloving man who openly cheated on her. He was murdered and soon after her two sons died. Rita fell ill, but recovered. However, an ugly, open wound on her forehead caused those who remained in her circle to turn away.

Although I didn't necessarily believe, the story rang true. We all have scars and blemishes that we wish could be hidden.

I have tried to instill faith in our children, with mixed success. I'll discuss with Sam the concrete proof he demands — but we both know doesn't exist — about God and faith.

What I do know is that without my friends I would have given up and missed out on an often strange and yet beautiful journey.


Life has brought three children, an appreciation for blue sky and thunder and an understanding that blemishes within myself and others are but a part of who we are.

The blemishes within myself and others cause both laughter and pain.

I told Sam this, not realizing his earphones were tuned to Metallica, a band he says is the best of all time. It's undecipherable noise to me, but the din clearly speaks volumes to him.

Years ago, I thought the same about the Doors. Mother hated that music, but Rita, Jude, Gregory and Philomena sure seemed to enjoy it.

One of their best songs — "Riders on the Storm'' — seemed then and now a perfect fit for me and my inner circle.

What To Read Next
Get Local