I have not been to church since my dad died. It’s not because I am angry or because my faith has been shaken. Or because I am worried that the sound of my heels clicking on the stone floor will trigger a memory of the last time I walked down that center aisle, holding my mother’s hand.
No, it is none of those things. It is simply that my heart was not yet ready for the enormity of emotion that fills me every time I sit in those pews. I still don’t know if I am ready. But today is All Saints’ Day.
To me, All Saints’ Day is the most magnificent day in the Episcopal Church. This might be heresy but I have always ranked liturgical holidays solely by their corresponding hymns. And for my money, the music and the pageantry of All Saints’ Day – from the triumphant “All the Saints” to the simple but beautiful “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” – takes the cake.
I love that this is a day devoted to the remembrance of the souls who have departed. That for one hour we are asked to just… stop. Stop thinking about work and grocery lists and school projects and whether our ceiling needs to be re-plastered. We are asked to instead remember and honor those we can no longer touch and see.
But what I love the most is that All Saints’ Day celebrates the belief in the communion between those in this life and those in the next. The relationship not just with those who have gone before us, but also with those saints who surround us every day. To be sure, there are special saints – Capital S saints – with special days of recognition. But, more importantly, there are regular saints. The unknown and the ordinary who walk among us every day, quietly changing the world through seemingly inconsequential acts of love and generosity. You know them. You are one of them.
Yes, what I love most about this day is the belief that we are all saints. Or at least we all have the power to be.
And so today I will go to church again. I will remember all my saints who from their labors rest. The ones who made me who I am, by DNA and by choice. The ones who loved me for all that I am and all that I am not. The ones who taught me grace and nurtured my talents. The ones who guided me and gave me the strength to guide myself. The ones who watch over me and all my boys. The one who leaves me pine needle hearts in my driveway to let me know he is still here. That we are, and always will be, connected in the communion of saints. That love never ends.
And I will give thanks for all my saints here on earth – the faithful, the true, and bold. The ones who care about others more than themselves. The ones who speak their minds and lead with their hearts. The ones who give their time, their talents, and their love without being asked. The ones who hold my hand and forgive my faults. The ones who make my world a better, richer, more loving and more beautiful home.
And I will remind myself not of what I have lost, but of all that I have. Of all that I am. And all that I should be.