Or you could hear voices (schizophrenic or savior of her country?), or go without food or drink for inconvenient periods (fitting model, bad-tempered anorexic, or savior of her Church?), or sit under a tree and think beautiful thoughts (example of holiness and peace or chronic underachiever?). Even where the exact term "saint" doesn't exist in a particular faith or sect, there are those whose lives, or whose deaths, are examples - those who share food, who step between a patriot and certain death, whose life is a story of generosity and holiness and he's so holy he doesn't even know it.
I never aspired to martyrdom by torture. Sorry, but if I have to die for something, make it quick and painless, and let me be sure that I've had my roots done recently for the benefit of the admiring faithful.
I had a lot of exposure to tales of saints and scholars, growing up in what's now (but for how much longer? language mutates constantly!) called a multi-cultural household. Our parents encouraged us to accept every holiday invitation that came along, so that the customs of others would not be strange to us.
If I were asked to update the Calendar of Saints, or the List of Holy Persons of Your Completely Free Choice Because So Far We Still Live in A Free Country, I would focus on venerating those who smooth the path of the ordinary person through an ordinary day, thus making it possible for the ordinary to reach for the extraordinary. For example, there ought to be a saint who makes parking spaces appear. Not constantly, that would be chaotic, but I bet that a mom of 3 who needs to stop on the way home from school pick-up to get the supplies for the next morning's stupid project would feel blessed if she could park right in front of the crafts store.
And the dreary days of February need their own saint, the one who stops you when in boredom and desperation you decide you'd look better with some more streaks of different-colored light and dark blonde here and here. Or with bangs. Especially with bangs.
How about -- a saint who'll cause a markdown of a dress in my size to turn up on a rack I thought I'd already checked, for that sudden "command performance" occasion when the essential component of the other appropriate and already owned outfit has popped a hole or is at the cleaner's.
In The Once and Future King, the boy King Arthur learns that a soldier's most important weapon is his feet. Tales of trench foot from the horror that was World War One bear this out. Anecdotes drift back from Eye-Raq. So there are already patron saints for those who suffer from diseases of the foot, and for shoemakers and bootmakers. But maybe somewhere, more prosaic, more "little," could there be a saint who makes cute shoes fit just a little narrow-er for those of us who find no comfort in being told we have "aristocratic" feet?
Now that I don't wear the overpriced socks that cued my high school classmates into "degree of cool," I don't feel a desperate need for a patron saint of the unmatched socks. But those of you with small children might just, when standing over a bushel of same, feel that a small quick miracle would be convenient.
Sometimes a saint who is reknowned for something in one faith or culture turns up with a different name, same helpful attributes and powers, in other faiths, other cultures, other lands. I'm thinking of He Who Opens Doors.
But if I had to bet, I'd say that the saint most often invoked, in all his forms, by all his names and avatars, is the Finder of Lost Objects. Madly going through old magazines for a picture of doesn't matter, I said to my friend Raisa that I was giving up. Oh, not yet, try this, she said, and, closing her eyes, recited a charm in Hebrew.
Or, she said, if that doesn't work, this one always does:
Good Saint Anthony
Please come 'round
And must be found.
What "saints" could smooth your path ? What power/attribute would you like to have? And, oh, yes, has our friend Saint Anthony helped you?