All Saints’ Day…All Souls’ Day…All Hallows’ Day…Sabbath Soul…Dia de Muertos. From my perspective, this particular day provokes an emotional reaction. The first Sunday in November is marked as a day of special remembrance for those who have gone before in our worship service. This remembrance is sprinkled with responsive readings, special hymns, lit candles, the presentation of a white rose to a surviving family member, and clergy reading aloud the names of those saints from the congregation who gone beyond in the past year. As my Granny B. often observed, All Saints is the time “to open and honor the ‘thin space’ where all the saints meet.”
My parents, around 1991. My mom NEVER liked having her picture taken; it was a big deal to catch her unaware in her beautiful clothes, jewelry, coiffed hair, and spotless makeup. When she was next to dad though, he would make her laugh and coax her gently into relaxing so the snapshot was natural. She passed in 2016 and I miss her every single day, but especially on certain remembrances like today.
Ironically, I find myself deeply nostalgic and profoundly grateful every year on this solemn day. Grateful for all who came before me, whose shoulders I continue to stand upon. Grateful for the treasured stories, the powerful memories, and the lasting legacies of these saints. Grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the transformational stages of my own life journey. Grateful for each new day and the chance to clear away the broken parts while exploring new paths to grow in grace and hope.
So today, take a moment to reflect on the saints in your life. Who are you particularly grateful for and why?
A longtime friend sent me this poem early this morning; she was thinking of my mom and me:
In the struggles we choose for ourselves,
in the ways we move forward in our lives
and bring our world forward with us,
It is right to remember the names of those
who gave us strength in this choice of living.
It is right to name the power of hard lives well-lived.
We share a history with those lives.
We belong to the same motion.
They too were strengthened by what had gone before.
They too were drawn on by the vision of what might come to be.
Those who lived before us,
who struggled for justice and suffered injustice before us,
have not melted into the dust,
and have not disappeared.
They are with us still.
The lives they lived hold us steady.
Their words remind us and call us back to ourselves.
Their courage and love evoke our own.
We, the living, carry them with us:
we are their voices, their hands and their hearts.
We take them with us,
and with them choose the deeper path of living.
— Kathleen McTigue, “They Are with Us Still”
Here’s hoping we never lose sight of the gifts gratefully given to us by those who come and go before us…for when one is missing, the whole is somehow less. “For all the saints who from their labors rest…” May you be blessed and be a blessing as you care for yourself and others, my friends.