It is easy for us to assume that people are either insane or sane. In fact, the sane and the insane or only the extreme ends of a spectrum. Insane people are simply further gone than the rest of us. Saints are at the other end of the spectrum and are truly whole, truly human and truly completed works of the divine art.
One of the marks of true insanity is that the insane person doesn’t realize they are insane. That’s why they have to be carted off forcefully. Further down the spectrum are all those who are insane or deranged or imbalanced in some way in one area of their life or another. We can think of those poor souls who are perfectly okay in every other way, but they are obsessive about some conspiracy theory or they hold to some kooky perspective on something. Maybe they have an addiction or a secret perversion in their lives. Maybe through bitterness and unforgiveness their hearts and minds are poisoned and they bear a grudge and end up acting and speaking irrationally.
I thought of this the other day when attending a high school volleyball game and some parents were foaming at the mouth with rage over an umpire’s call. I admit that I am no athlete and I find the hysterics and dramatics and high passion of the devotee to be bizarre. I always bite my tongue when I’m tempted to say, “It’s only a game!” lest they turn their ire from the referee to me and I end up with a black eye. Suddenly I saw that there for a moment those people were crazy. Crazy as loons, and if their behavior continued unrestrained they would be locked up. They soon calmed down and were ‘normal’ again, but for a moment the beast was revealed.
This insanity I’m talking about is everywhere. Consider our greed. How crazy is it to live the affluent vulgar lives we lead in a world of starving children? Consider our anger. How crazy is it to be angry at all the people and events in the world that we are angry about when we can do nothing about it? Consider our narrow, religious fortress mentality. How crazy is it to huddle down with other people who believe like we do and get together and point our fingers at all the ‘sinners’ outside and imagine we’re good only because we’ve made them bad?
I could go on. We’re crazy. All of us. If insanity is a skewed perception of reality or losing a grip on reality, then all of us are at least partially looped at least some of the time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m raising my hand. I’m a fruit loop too….
In contrast consider the saints. Their purity and humility and goodness and faith and humor and love and goodness and energy is simply sanity. It is an absolutely firm and unrelenting grip on reality. It is remorseless in it grip on reality. It is refreshing and beautiful and inspiring and true.
Is there a patron saint of the insane? Perhaps it could be dear sweet Therese if she is not already too busy converting England.
If it is possible most sane of little girls, make me sane before it’s too late.