The week ahead is bittersweet this year. I am swallowing hard as I celebrate All Saints and All Souls Days for the first time after my father’s death, trusting that he is now alive in ways more profound than I could ever imagine. At the same time I’m also delighted to watch our little ones at my brother’s annual pumpkin carving party amidst all of his Day of the Dead treasures. That’s what we get in our family since Mark’s birthday is on Halloween – and what a rich and full and complicated celebration it all is this time! A line from the recent animated film Coco captures the spirit of the holiday and the holy days we mark. “Being a part of this family means you are here for this family,” said Abuelita, the grandmother. Our Scripture passages for All Saints and All Souls Days speak of union with God, service to God’s people and the power of life and goodness over death and desolation…with THIS family that we claim as beloved children of God. Whether we are swallowing the tears of our losses or indulging in the treats of the little ones’ goodie bags, we do it together, telling stories, sharing memories, encouraging one another to live bravely into the legacies left behind by those whose journeys are complete. Blessed are those who embrace the sometimes bewildering graces that shape us into saints, for that is what we are called to be. May we live in the hope that the poet June McIntosh portrayed in this excerpt from her work I Tell You What I’m Gonna Do:
Gonna laugh with the Lord in Heaven,
gonna fall on my knees by the throne.
I’m gonna bathe my face in the streams of grace,
praise God for bringing me home.
This is a time of grief and celebration, not just for me but for all of us who have known loss. May we have faith that the Day of the Dead is for us the Day of Resurrection. May we know laughter through our tears as we celebrate the saints who have gone before us and strive to become the saints our little trick-or-treaters will remember and emulate in years to come.