The Sunday before or after Halloween is usually celebrated as All Saint’s Day by the Christian Church. If you ever pay attention to the traditional songs sung on that day, the Saints seemed to be the elite, the elect and the battle-hardened. Take a look at a few lines from songs:
“I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true, who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew.”
“Faith of our fathers (or “martyrs”) living still, in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword…”
“O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, fight as the saints who nobly fought of old and win with them the victor’s crown of gold.”
To be an official saint in the Catholic Church you must be dead and have proven miracles ascribed to your name. When people referred to the “saints of the church” it was always in reference to the folks who had been there forever and seriously ate, slept and breathed the work of the church. In the end it took a really special person to fit those sorts of qualifications. I probably fall more easily into the “sinner” category than the “saint” category.
But, saint or sinner, we all are loved by God, we will all (in my opinion, since I don’t believe in hell, at least not in the after-life) return to our Source when we die, and we are all deserving of being honored and remembered. So, I changed All Saint’s Day to be more inclusive and called yesterday A Day of Remembrance. It’s a beautiful thing to honor the way a person (or a pet, we remembered a few of those yesterday) touched our lives with their love, their wisdom, their uniqueness. Sometimes the memory reminds us that we didn’t have all that we could have had with that person in time, closeness, or even understanding. So the act of remembering becomes a moment of blessing what was, all of it. Perhaps then, within the blessing and remembrance, healing can follow.
These types of rituals are not confined to the structure of a worship service. Sometimes when I find myself longing for someone who has passed away I simply light a candle, set it on my desk while I work, and allow the presence of their memory to be with me… a light in my darkness. As time and the soul are eternal, I trust that as they are remembered, so are they also present.