A priest and performer considers religion, the arts, and the often thin space between sacred and secular, church and culture, pulpit and pew.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gifts from the Past

Perhaps the most significant and mysterious “fourth wall” is the one that divides this mortal life from the one that comes after. We speak of “passing on”, “crossing over”, “entering the Nearer Presence” – all euphemisms for death. Yet in this season of remembrance that began with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, it occurs to me that even this wall may be more permeable than we think, in a spiritual though not physical sense. We call to mind the saints of the Church, that “blest communion, fellowship divine”, knowing that across God’s spectrum of time and space we are united with them. We recall the saints of our own life and experience, the ones who have influenced us, challenging us to be our best, most faithful selves and encouraging us as they walk at least a portion of the journey alongside us. Or perhaps an ancestor we never knew but who, due to family lore and history is someone with whom we feel an affinity. My sabbatical travels, as well as an online retreat I’m taking that focuses on the gifts of our forebears, have brought the lives and stories of these people into much sharper focus for me. That is a gift that no wall can thwart.

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