It’s a holiday of sorts, these days of transition from October to November. Following All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween (derived from Samhain, the original Celtic celebration of the dead) comes the Catholic All Saint’s Day, and then All Souls. Not terribly versed in the origins or meanings of these days, I still have a sense that there is, in these three days, a heightened awareness of the great stream of humanity that has come before us.
Nothing morbid about it: I’m just reflecting on the people who have lived through the centuries as journeying partners on the path of the Christ. Hebrews 11 remembers many unnamed men and women who became martyrs for Christ, and the Hebrews writer says the world was not worthy of them. In the first centuries of Christianity, many died for their faith, and it became customary for disciples of Jesus to remember them with all-night vigils on the anniversary of their death. Eventually, of course, there were too many to remember, so they all got lumped together on a day originally placed in May, but moved in the 9th century to Nov. 1. (Don’t hold me to the accuracy of all that, but that’s the gist of it.)
I don’t think I have any martyrs in my family, but my Dad loved God. He studied his Bible, quietly served the people around him, and while he was pretty sure he had doctrine right, I think he wondered about the mysteries of things sort of like I do. (Maybe not…I could be making that up. But when I think of his eyes, there’s mystery there.) Now that he’s gone some 19 years, I often reflect on his life, his ongoing presence in the Kingdom of the Heavens, and the someday hope of seeing him again.
The human spirit, the human soul, the human life, birthed by God, infused with an image beyond anything we could have imagined. Divinity impressed on humanity, eventually taking human form not only in the creatures of His making, but in the person of the Christ. Divinity pressing in closer, making the bridge back home, so that the hallowed souls of humanity might have hope when death closed in. Many have made the journey into mystery, and we are all journeying there now, even as we speak.
All Hallows, All Saints’, All Souls’: a good moment to brood and be thankful over the vast family of God that has come before.
…the forever kingdom…