For all the

saints who from their labors rest….

I do love that hymn. We didn’t sing it for chapel today, which is a bit disappointing, as I do love to belt out the “alleluias” but the service was nice anyway.

It’s not something I grew up with, All Saint’s Day, and it did take me a while to wrap my head around the idea of celebrating it as a low church Protestant.  There is value, I see now, though,  in commemorating those that have gone before, those who have led us in faith, in hope, in peace.  There is value in recognizing the solid cord that ties us to those who no longer walk this earth, but who share in the great communion of saints.

My saints are not all Christian, and I don’t even know all of them in a personal way. But in some way or another, they’ve held a light for me. I showed Selam how to do that last night–hold a light. We were trick or treating, and she had taken a small flashlight that was on a string. She kept dangling it by the string, which caused the light to bounce all around. It was delightful, really–that light that swirled in tiny flashes, illuminating a spare decoration or branch, catching the glitter of a little girl’s costume wing, or the shine of a bat mask. But when you’re walking, you want the light to be held.  “Point it to the ground ahead of us” I told her, “so we don’t trip on the branches. Help us get where we want to be.” I said, holding the light for just a second so she could see.  She took to the important job, and when we reached the bottom step of a house would dangle the string again, swirling the lamp about before climbing the steps to ask for candy. Her treat received, and thank you proffered , she’d blow her duck whistle one time, swirl the flashlight a bit, and then move on, holding the light steady for both of us to make our way. (You will not be surprised to learn that an hour of trick or treating took us to just twenty houses, what with this small ritual in addition to a few fairly lengthy conversations with home-owners about ducks, chickens, and duck noises.)

I love, love, LOVE that John August Swanson painting, The Festival of Lights.  I have a poster of it framed in my living room.  I think that’s what it is like–these thousands of tiny candles that somehow give way to the stars, so that you can’t know for sure which light is held and which light is dangled.

Because we need both, really. We need both.

I offer thanks for the faithful departed who delighted my heart, and for those whose steady hand lit the road ahead.

I give thanks.

“Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine. Alleluia. Alleluia.”



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