“For, as to every leaf and every flower there is an ideal to which the growth of the plant is constantly urging, so is there an idea to every human being, - a perfect form in which it might appear, were every defect removed and every characteristic excellence stimulated to the highest point. Once in an age, God sends to some of us a friend who loves in us, not a false-imagining, an unreal character, but, looking through the rubbish of our imperfections, loves in us the divine ideal of our nature, - loves, not the man that we are, but the angel that we may be. Such friends seem inspired by a divine gift of prophecy – like the mother of St. Augustine, who, in the midst of the wayward, reckless youth of her son, beheld him in a vision, standing clothed in white, a ministering priest at the right hand of God, as he has stood for longs ages since. Could a mysterious foresight unveil to us this resurrection form of the friends with whom we daily walk, compassed about with mortal infirmity, we should follow them with faith and reverence through all the disguises of human faults and weakness, “waiting for the manifestations of the sons of God.” But these wonderful soul-friends, to whom God grants such perceptions, are the exceptions in life; yet sometimes we are blessed with one who see through us, as Michael Angelo saw through a block of marble, when he attacked it in a divine fervor, declaring that an angel was imprisoned within it; - and it is often that delicate, resolute hand of such a friend that sets the angel free.
There are soul-artists, who go through this world, looking among their fellows with reverence, as one looks among the dust and rubbish of old shops for hidden works of Titian and Leonardo da Vinci, and finding them, however cracked and torn and painted over with tawdry daubes of pretenders, immediately recognize the divine original, and set themselves to cleanse and restore. Such are God’s real priests, whose ordination and anointing are from the Holy Spirit; and he who has not this enthusiasm is not ordained of God, though whole synods of bishops laid hands on him.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe, from the book "Treasures New and Old" - photo from the Internet