I live in a two-calendar world; always aware of the season, the holiday looming, how many days until Sunday; and keenly aware of whether the church is telling the story of loaves and fishes or remembering the saints we’ve loved in this world and those we’ve committed to the next.
It’s a sweet way to move through this life. No matter how much despair the world might generate, or report, inflate or exploit, I’m always considering where the Gospel meets that story and the difference that it makes.
It is Halloween, so I follow my traditions of watching certain YouTube videos: Dance In The Graveyard for example; and at the same time I’m wondering if one of our gifted musicians might lend her trumpet to When The Saints Go Marching In on Sunday.
It is Tuesday, so I begin listening to podcasts to prepare to preach; and I go to Yoga so that my body and mind can get synced up and free the muse that directs my imagination. And I may well land at Frita Baditos for lunch.
Glossy Pumpkin Pie and cookies that look like Turkeys are on the cover of Food; and Soup Suppers will soon begin as we ease into Advent with the lullaby that is Holden Evening Prayer.
I am in a new city I fell in love with long ago, the owner of a new red wool coat and winter white gloves. I am in a new church, singing songs so beloved by now they often make me cry and hearing scripture I know by heart yet long to hear again. And I need to press my white stole with the gold hand-prints and tiny feet for Sunday to prepare to celebrate a holy day of remembering.
I look over the bulletin and on the back page see that hymn you just can’t sing without smiling. And I remember the art print by the same name as the hymn — the one that hung in the restaurant with the delicious tomato soup where Chase and I had lunch. In the print, great jazz musicians who blessed us here are stilled in a parade on a street that surely runs down the middle of eternity.
I remember hearing the brass band playing it to greet us on the mission trip we took to help restore New Orleans after Katrina.
In my mind’s eye I can still see Cooper, age 12, playing it on his Saxophone outside that beautiful fall day in the small farming community we shared before he and his family moved away.
And I hear the voices of my cousins telling me how they played it at Uncle Jac’s funeral.
I will soon read the Frederick Buechner piece that I read this time every year because the truth it contains calls my name like a prelude to a favorite song:
AND I LOVED THEM, these others, those friends and teachers. I would never have used the word love, saving that for what I had felt for the girl with the mouth that turned up at the corners, and for Naya, my mother and brother, but love of a kind it nonetheless was. Even the ones I did not all that much like I think I knew I would miss when the time came. I sensed in them, as in myself, an inner battle against loneliness and the great dark, and to know that they were also battling was to be no longer alone in the same way with in myself. I loved them for that. I wished them well. And then there was Jimmy, my first fast friend; and Huyler, who of all of them heard out most healingly the secret of my father; and Bill, skinny and full of life and the brightest of us all, who would have added God only knows what richness to the great ragbag of things if the war had not ended him before he more than got started. I could not imagine who I would have been without them, nor can I imagine it to this day because they are in so many ways a part of me still.
• • •
On All Saints’ Day, it is not just the saints of the church that we should remember in our prayers, but all the foolish ones and wise ones, the shy ones and overbearing ones, the broken ones and whole ones, the despots and tosspots and crackpots of our lives who, one way or another, have been our particular fathers and mothers and saints, and whom we loved without knowing we loved them and by whom we were helped to whatever little we may have, or ever hope to have, of some kind of seedy sainthood of our own. (Buechner, Not Just The Saints)
I live in a two-calendar world; one on the ground, and the other on a separate plane for which I cannot find the words; even with words being my thing.
And Lord, I want to be in that number.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by its gates.” Revelation 22:14 (NRSV)