first posted on October 31, 2013
We are near the Eve of All Hallows (or All Saints as it is more commonly known now and shortened to “Halloween” of course), and this Sunday is All Saints Day, that feast day for those extraordinary people who have walked among us, whose lives and works changed the world and whose faith led them into danger, sacrifice and defiance. All Souls Day (November 2 on the liturgical calendar) is when we have the special intention of remembering those we loved who have died. Those ordinary children of God who happened to be extraordinary to us. This is when we make the liturgical acknowledgement that everyone is important to God and will be welcomed into everlasting life. All souls, saint or no, faithful or not.
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Light and dark. Words that are as simple as black and white – and words that hold as much unintended meaning. Too often the concept of darkness implies danger, malevolence, sin…but there is also goodness to be found in the darkness. Science tells us that our bodies heal during our sleep. From the darkness of a cocoon, change, growth and beauty can emerge.
At St. Alban’s this Sunday at 5:00 p.m. an All Souls’ Day service of prayers and music will include meditative chants with the power to bond a congregation into a prayerful community, as they do for the French community of Taizé. And as part of the service the choir will sing a larger work by British composer Bob Chilcott, Canticles of Light, based on three ancient Latin hymns which ask for God’s protection and comfort through the night and for renewed strength and hope in the new day to come.
Grief is its own kind of darkness. May it be the darkness of feeling cocooned by God’s love and by the love of this community. I hope that it is the darkness from which those who mourn can emerge stronger and more beautiful. And perhaps there will be one moment of music during the All Souls’ Service of Remembrance on Sunday which draws someone from their cocoon of grief into the radiant light of God’s healing touch.
Service of Remembrance, Nov. 1, 2015
Audre Lorde said that women are allied with darkness. I find it hard to see anything but sweet rest in darkness, the center of the violet or purple orchid, the place when I am vulnerable and drowsy and open utterly to dreams. Death does not frighten me, for I am sure that mine will be beautiful as I have no place on earth to call mine, nor no people who love me except Heaven and God. I am an ‘enfant de Dieu’ like Vincent Van Gogh. I am an outcast and the Lord loves us, His little ones. “For whatever you do to the Least of these, you do to Me.”