Keep Them Close
(All Saints Day 2016)
Keep them close,
The ones who have gone,
Who have gone on and died on you.
You know the ones.
You know their names.
Of course you do – the ones you have loved and lost.
Sometimes you may have even felt their presence.
At this time of year, in late fall, the sacred traditions say, it’s especially thin –
The veil between the worlds.
So keep them close if it encourages your soul
And to encourage your soul.
They still are.
Their form has changed of course,
But they’re there.
Healed, renewed and in their right minds so to speak.
Ghosts, skulls, skeletons, at this time of year to remind us of death.
And perhaps also serving as a reminder of our own death and those who have died,
And to remember to keep them close.
Perhaps they visit us more often than we are aware of – to encourage us on our way.
Those you have known, your close kin too, but even bigger than that – all the saints, all God’s people who have come before.
We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
All hallows eve.
The eve of holy days.
All hallowed days.
A hallowed life as we remember.
Remember our mortality.
Remember our life here ends.
Remember to make the most of our days.
Remember God’s presence every moment.
Remember their presence and keep them close.
For If we remembered, if we knew who walked with us on this journey.
We would never be afraid or doubt again.
All days would become holy.
Now they see.
Now they know.
Now they see face to face, but we see through a glass dimly.
And that’s the crux of it isn’t it?
To keep peering through the glass and try to see.
To know, to see, to believe and live in the real world – the spiritual world and the spiritual reality of it all, just beyond the veil.
There they are just beyond the veil.
There it is the invisible real world just behind or beyond our gaze and just a breath away.
We shared our journeys for a little while with skin on and now by spirit.
Continue journeying with them.
Why not have a conversation from time to time?
Why not continue to make room for the mystery?
The dead are not dead.
They’re more alive than ever.
More alive than we are.
We move from life to life and are invited to a full life both now and then.
Isn’t that what they want us to know?
Life to life to life to life in God.
We still share the same life you know.
For in God we live and move and have our being.
We all live in God,
The unceasing flow of life, love and spirit all around us all the time,
If only we had eyes to see.
So keep them close for they are already closer than you realize.
Those you know and those you have not yet met – that great cloud.
Keep them close those sinners and saints who realize now they’ve never been anything but saints –
All saints now, just like you are, but you don’t realize it as they do
So take a few moments.
Take a few breaths.
Bring them to mind.
Whisper their name.
Commune a little bit.
Speak to them.
May come that reminds you of them.
Be aware of it.
May it comfort, soothe and settle you.
May it allow you to tap into the mystery of life.
What messages do they have to tell you?
What would they say to you today to encourage your soul?
A LINK: 5 minute Simple Sunday Sermon: You are Surrounded
A QUOTE: By one of my favorite authors.
“HOW THEY DO LIVE on, those giants of our childhood, and how well they manage to take even death in their stride because although death can put an end to them right enough, it can never put an end to our relationship with them. Wherever or however else they may have come to life since, it is beyond a doubt that they live still in us. Memory is more than a looking back to a time that is no longer; it is a looking out into another kind of time altogether where everything that ever was continues not just to be, but to grow and change with the life that is in it still. The people we loved. The people who loved us. The people who, for good or ill , taught us things. Dead and gone though they may be, as we come to understand them in new ways, it is as though they come to understand us — and through them we come to understand ourselves-in new ways too. Who knows what “the communion of saints” means, but surely it means more than just that we are all of us haunted by ghosts because they are not ghosts, these people we once knew, not just echoes of voices that have years since ceased to speak, but saints in the sense that through them something of the power and richness of life itself not only touched us once long ago, but continues to touch us. They have their own business to get on with now, I assume — “increasing in knowledge and love of Thee,” says the Book of Common Prayer, and moving “from strength to strength,” which sounds like business enough for anybody — and one imagines all of us on this shore fading for them as they journey ahead toward whatever new shore may await them; but it is as if they carry something of us on their way as we assuredly carry something of them on ours. That is perhaps why to think of them is a matter not only of remembering them as they used to be but of seeing and hearing them as in some sense they are now. If they had things to say to us then, they have things to say to us now too, nor are they by any means always things we expect or the same things.”
– FREDERICK BUECHNER