January 24, 2017

Contagious Evangelists

There are people who just make the world more pleasant to live in.  I remember one such person from my first year in college.  Her name was Claire Crosetti.  She didn't live in the dorm as I did, but it was a very small college and she came to visit now and then.  Everyone loved her.  Everyone.  I don't even know much about her.  I didn't know her family or where she lived off campus or her major.  And she loved everyone.  She was sweet and cheerful - without being cloying or unnatural.  Claire was contagiously happy.

Well before "random acts of kindness" were a thing, Claire did them.  When crossing the Bay Bridge to The City, she would pay also for the person behind her to give them a pleasant surprise.  She was good, but always up for genuine fun.  She once visited the dorms the night a huge group was leaving for a planned ski trip.  Although the only clothes she had with her were those she was wearing - an angora sweater a string of pearls and pumps (it was the eighties) - we talked her into joining us.

It was a Catholic college and most students were Catholic to some degree or other.  Evangelizing isn't something that happened overtly there, but Claire had a huge impact on my faith.  Naturally full of energy and enthusiasm, she was part of a group leading a retreat.  Since I admired her so much as did many others - not with an awe, but with love - I noticed her faith.  I was already devout in my Faith, but she inspired in me a desire for a strong, joyful, enthusiastic faith.  I don't remember much from the actual retreat.  It was a typical college student led retreat.  But I do remember I prayed in the car on the way there for faith of the kind I saw in Claire.  The kind that leads to doing something about it and affecting those around me.

I can trace back to that prayer a growth in my own spiritual life.  I think of Claire now and then and always with a smile.  I did not know her well enough to keep in touch with her.  I don't know that she would even remember me (but something tells me she would).  But I have been ever grateful that she allowed herself to simply reflect Jesus' love to those around her.  I pray that in some small, way I have done the same for someone, somewhere in the world.

There is a joyful beauty in living your life in such a way that others will become better simply by knowing you.  It can't be done by concentrating on how you are living, but rather on who you are loving.  Love Christ and you become a contagious Christian, without even talking about it.  You may have the greatest impact on those who are watching you when you are completely unaware.

Thanks, Claire - wherever you are!


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