Fr Joe got it so right this morning: All Saints’ isn’t just a Christian memorial day (although it is that). It’s also about fresh starts, about you and I seizing the gift God extends to us to enter into new ministries, about grasping our own sainthood. The communion of saints is cheering us on from around the eternal throne–but we here on earth are completing and fulfilling and enriching the starts they made, once upon a time. We’re sealing the deal they started.
I talk a lot about quotidian saints, the kind who’ll never have a church named after them. Ruby Mathill, whom no doubt I’m about the last living person to remember–she and her little dog Terry and tins of dry biscuits introduced me, gently and slowly and persistently, to Anglicanism, the only spiritual home I’ve ever found which made sense for me. Danny Winterrowd, dying by inches, showing me what it means to be brave in the face of a battle you’re going to lose, because he knew he was winning a bigger battle, the one for eternity. My dad dedicating his life to helping small town kids achieve goals they never knew they could have, my Latin teacher Mildred Donald running through declensions because “this will come in handy someday when you’re in a pulpit,” even though that was the furthest thing from my mind in high school. Rowan Greer from Yale with his slobbery dogs and uncanny ability to speak directly to the things one thought one had hidden safely away from everyone, Julian Burke giving me his admiral’s cape because I was standing in the cold shivering at a burial in Arlington, a host of Carthaginians whom I shan’t name lest I start to get all weepy at the memories. Quotidian saints are the building blocks of heaven, sticking to it, completing other peoples’ unfinished business, not looking over their shoulders to gauge the applause from the stands. Enduring what the world tosses out because there prizes (integrity, beauty, legacy, faithfulness, love) which far outweigh the world and its glittering tinsel.
We’re all of us, if we only want to be, quotidian saints. And that, friends, is enough integrity, beauty, legacy, faithfulness and love to be worth the effort. And yes, I know it’s an effort. It’s easier to roll our shoulders, walk away before the task is finished, and of course spend our time gauging the volume of applause from the stands. But easy isn’t on the docket when it comes to crafting a life, a soul, a universe. So run with patience the race set before you. Because you and I, friends, we’re the saints being celebrated this week.