Am I a saint?  “Who, me ?” Simple response, “of course not!” First of all, doesn’t a person have to die first to become one? And then there are the miracles. No way! Aren’t saints the inhabitants of heaven who seem to be, at least by their images, a humorless lot with praying hands and upturned eyes. Wearing bright halos? Clearly not me.

However, once I get beyond stereotype and become serious, I begin to wonder what kind of a person a saint is. While trying to answer that question, I came to realize that I have known, have lived with and been touched by many saints, very alive guys and gals, human in every way, who seem to make the world better just by being part of it.

They radiate an almost tangible faith, with laughter, compassion and purpose. No halos in sight, but their person and presence somehow soften life’s stresses and buffer the struggles that come with being human. They have their own problems but still embrace life as a gift, seeing in themselves and others the possibility of making the world a better place.

The saints among us are not quirky or in another world or even self-righteous,  just ordinary souls who live beyond themselves,  who are quietly extraordinary, sensitive and self-sacrificing, making a difference in mostly unrecognized ways. They are lovers in the fullest sense of the word. But while they know doubt, depression, guilt and pain, experiencing the full range of the human condition, they manage to remain positive about the meaning of life and trust the workings of its Creator.

Nor are the saints among us Pollyannas. Or smug. They do not judge others, are open and accepting, seeking insight and truth in their quest for integrity.  They also possess a credibility which their sins and shortcomings provide. They have no desire to be set apart. They have learned to ask for help along the way, to smile and shake their heads at their own failings, to ask forgiveness and to find goodness and beauty in surprising places.

The saints among us are comfortable with themselves. They are not reclusive. Theirs is a very wide world. They offer light to its dark places, seek healing for their own, simply by being themselves, accepting others, finding oneness in differences while believing that life’s meaning is ultimately about love and “getting it right.”

Saints are all around us. We encounter them every day. We need to learn from them, appreciate them and make them our heroes, because they make our world a better place.

(And I cannot resist: We could use a few of them in the White House these days.)