The First of November
I didn’t grow up in a tradition that observed All Saints’ Day. Marrying a liturgically minded United Methodist pastor, whose father was also a pastor as well as a professor of preaching and worship, has been like slow seminary all these years. It’s difficult now to recall a time when I didn’t keep All Saints’ Day.
Since my dear father-in-law passed on November 1st four years ago, All Saints’ Day comes with more potent substance. If we held remembrance and honor for saints before his death, it’s now as if John’s dad begins the procession of saints, with song, like the beginning of a celebratory, high-Sunday service.
And behind him I see my own dad, my grandparents, John’s grandparents, our aunts, my uncles, Little David, Chelley, Ms. Pasty, Mr. Hayden, Judy Lea, Joe Nutt, Mr. Baldwin, Keith, Kerrie, Rhonda’s mom, Mia’s mom and brother, Angie’s sister and dad and nephew, Bridget’s dad and brother. Saints from churches we’ve served. Saints from the churches where we first knew Jesus. Young ones whose lives ended too soon. Servicemen and servicewomen. The number goes on and on.
The spiritual lives and internal stories of the people I see in the processional behind Dad Boyd are not all known to me. How can I know the hearts of humans? I struggle to know my own quite often. The writer of Hebrews encourages me that I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. That is more and more comforting as I go. Perhaps, too, that cloud of witnesses is teaching me to give space and time for God to make the saints, teaching me to love like I am loved while God works.
As this All Saints’ Day nears its end, my heart turns to prayer. In trust in God’s love for me and the world and all who live in it, I give thanks for the saints whose lives and love have helped me grow and become. I give thanks for living saints, too numerous to name, whose lives and love are holding me and helping to grow and become.