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SAINTWATCHING

With patience and a sharp eye, you can spot them in the wild.

My grandaddy spent a lifetime as a devoted bird watcher. His greatest moment came late in life when he and his partner identified, deep in the Everglades, a bird long thought extinct.

Although the find was verified and published in National Audubon Society news, he never revealed the exact location of the rare and fragile bird.

Ethel is like that bird. She would never allow me to write about her, so I have changed her name and a few details of her life.

And I am like my grandaddy, except I am a saint watcher, and Ethel is my rarest find to date.

Where I found Ethel

I was pastoring in rural Indiana when I met Ethel. She was still living in her little house then. But the talk was all of nursing homes. I can still see the off-white shingles and tin roof on her four-room house. The living room held a big furnace in one corner, snapshots of her family, scattered books, and a garish painting of Jesus, his heart shining from his chest in a sunburst that filled the frame.

I asked her about the snapshots, ...

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