Reflections by Jerry Webber

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Saints: The Thin Feast

Today is the eve of the Feast of All Saints. November 2, the day after the Feast of All Saints, is the Feast of All Souls.

The two feast days were largely unknown to me until recent years. The faith tradition that was my home base for many years held both days in suspicion, but they have become very important pauses for me. When I first made an intentional turn of life over 18 years ago to learn about prayer and to cultivate a more conscious awareness of God's work in and through my life, I read the stories of persons from days past who had followed God. Some of them faced tremendous challenges to live faithfully with God. Many gave everything they had to follow the impulse of their soul. They changed their world, and they continue to change our world.

They were saints not because they had more of God than anyone else. They were saints not because they manufactured miracles. They were saints because they lived into the purpose for which God created them, even with weaknesses and faults.

I've also come to realize that through my life I've been surrounded by saints, too. When I call out their names, you won't recognize them. In fact, to most of the world they were unknown, unrecognized. But they lived faithfully in their world for God -- blemishes and all -- as saints in previous generations sought to live faithfully with God.

All Saints Day gives me an opportunity to remember those who have accompanied me on my journey, both known and unknown, and who continue to accompany me. The timing of the days, coming the first two days of November, is no accident. These feasts mark the movement from the long days of summer, through autumn's transition, to the dark and cold of winter. All Saints and All Souls say to us that we do not make this transition alone, we don't have to face the darkness by ourselves.

In a sense, these days are thin places. The notion of "thin places" comes from Celtic spirituality for those moments and places where the spiritual world comes in noticeably close contact with the physical world of flesh and blood. At thin places, the veil between the seen and the unseen is virtually non-existent. At All Saints and All Souls, the spiritual world and the physical world virtually touch.

So this morning as an act of worship I whispered a few names in gratitude, some of my "All Saints" . . . Benedict . . . Francis and Clare . . . Ignatius . . . Julian . . . Teresa and John.

And I whispered more contemporary names, perhaps unknown to most others, but not unknown to me . . . those no longer physically present, but still alive with me and around me . . . Lucille Dawson . . . Doss Clark . . . Bernice Garrett . . . Sibyl Slocomb . . . my dad, Jerry Webber.

The next two days would be a fitting time to pause and remember those who are on your All Saints list.

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