(Disclaimer: Any opinion expressed in this column is that of its author.)
We’ve recently been given a respite from the daily grind – the end of Daylight-Saving Time. We’ve been given back the hour that was taken from us earlier this year. It’s literally a time to catch our breath. The days are shorter, the nights longer and colder and, for me, it’s a time when I can snuggle up, get cozy and reflect on the time gone by and people long gone.
I prefer to do that now, rather than at New Year’s, because so many celebrations are currently asking us to reflect on those who have passed on; although they never really pass on, do they? They are remembered. That’s what The Day of the Dead or All Saint’s Sunday ask us to do. Remember. Remember the saints in our lives who now see God face to face.
The older I get, the longer that list becomes. Yes, there is sadness that I can’t see them again but there is also a sense of their abiding presence. One of my favorite moments during the Episcopal Eucharist are the words, “And with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.” At that moment the room gets very crowded with the company of heaven, and not just for me but for all of us.
Over the years, I’ve made All Saint’s a time to remember the saints in my own family, but not in a romantic glow that casts a haze over their faults. I call them saints because that is how God sees them. And I look for holy relics that help me remember and celebrate who they were and who they are in the kingdom of God.
As I was going through one of my periodic household purges, I rediscovered a family treasure in the back of a closet. It was a little 45 record. On this piece of vinyl is a recording of my grandparents. In it my grandfather tells how he met my grandmother while chasing Poncho Villa through Texas. And there’s my Aunt Nan cracking jokes with my grandmother.
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard these voices, but they live on, if not on a piece of vinyl, then in my heart. That’s where I can replay their stories over and over again.
Each of us has that beloved voice we can still hear. Maybe it was the older, more mature voice of a grandparent. Maybe it was that of a young person whose voice should not have been stilled so soon. No matter the age, we would have kept them all a little longer if we could.
To those who now see God face to face, The Book of Revelation gives us this image of what they are experiencing: “They will hunger no more and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb and the center of the throne will be their shepherd and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God – God himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
I believe that to be not just a description of heaven but a description of what God, through Jesus, wants to do for each of us now. Wipe away our tears, so we can discover that no one is ever permanently lost to us.
We find them again in each memory, each family trinket, each story told. And then there will come a day when we find them again in God’s kingdom and the tears then will be tears of joy, tears of relief. For we were lost, but now are found. We’ve come home.
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Taylor recently retired as the founding rector of Church of the Holy Comforter (Episcopal) in Martinez. She spent 35 years in parish ministry, breaking the glass ceiling as the first woman priest in every parish in which she served. Dr. Taylor now serves as a member of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
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