April Love 2015 - An Inspiring Person

Susannah Conway is hosting a Photo Challenge this April about - you guessed it - LOVE. Infuse a little more love in your life... on Instagram and Twitter (search the hashtag #aprilove2015).

#AprilLove2015 An Inspiring Person

You know what inspires me? People who are a whole bunch of desperate hot messes, who put the truth out there, and radiate their goodness in spite of themselves. I have friends like this, engage with the art of people like this, and pray to saints like this. Yes, saints like this - hopelessly human, miracle making saints. There is hope for all us, I think.

With that, I give you Father Damien of Moloka'i. By all accounts, Damien was a bigot, ignorant and shrewd. He was coarse, headstrong and even indulgent. I probably would not have liked him very much if I had met him, truthfully. Yet, Damien did something extraordinary: he voluntarily went to Moloka'i to set up a clinic and care for those with Hansen's disease (also known as leprosy, an infection that often leads to physical disfigurement). People with the disease had been banished to a peninsula of Moloka'i island and isolated from medical care, education, and compassion.

After his death (from Hansen's disease), Damien faced unjustified criticisms in Hawai'i. The author Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", explored the dissonance of good and evil within one person. He went to Moloka'i and witnessed the work of Damien. Stevenson was a cynic and a truth-teller who had been tempted to deny God when he came upon the the colony in Moloka'i. He was also inspired by Damien's work, engaged freely with the residents, and gave a piano to the children's house. Stevenson was so moved that he sent a public open letter in defense of Damien acknowledging Damien's human failings and undeniable goodness. In 2009, Father Damien was canonized Saint Damien of Moloka'i (as predicted by Stevenson over 100 years earlier).

Saint Damien of Moloka'i is an inspiring person radiating goodness and compassion while performing miracles, all despite his very evident imperfections. There is hope for all of us, with our flaws and disfigurements of spirit, to perform miracles every single day. Even for me, hot mess that I am.

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