In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
The Wisdom of Solomon 3:2-3
This weekend we celebrate the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls. On All Saints’ Day we remember all those saints who left a name, whose work everyone knows something about: St Peter, St Paul, St Francis…. and the list goes on. Then on All Souls’ Day we remember ‘the faithful departed’: the ordinary people who may not have made a mark on the world, but who made their mark on us, their loved ones.
This passage from the Book of Wisdom reminds us that our human perceptions of the dead are not what they seem. “Their departure was thought to be a disaster…”, and so it is for us who have loved and lost. It is hard to take in the reality of a loved one no longer a daily presence in our lives. But we do not have to only accept what our senses tell us. We may not be able to any longer see, hear or touch the one we love, but Christians believe that death is an entry to new life…a change of being.
This Sunday is 31st when the popular festival of Halloween is celebrated. Halloween comes from the Celtic tradition of Samhain which marked the date as one where the boundary between the living and the dead was blurred. To this the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls respond with an infinitely more hopeful message; the dead and the living are still connected, not just on the 31st of October, but for eternity. Love overcomes all and is stronger than death. God is the God not of the dead but the living, and we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
Grace and peace,