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The Holy Days of All Saints and All Souls

11/8/2021 | Liz Walz, ASP - Executive Director

Category: Blog

 

The Holy Days of All Saints and All Souls usher us into the final chapters of our calendar year, even as we approach the birth of a new liturgical year at Christmas. This season is ripe with images that speak from the soul – honoring the dead gives way to an abundant table, gathered family and family of choice, the quiet of night and a star in the dark sky, a ring of glowing candles, a birth.

Worldly distractions can draw our attention to surface concerns; we cling to those things which pass away. Soul alone endures. By shifting our gaze, it becomes possible to see through the surface things to Soul reverberating in the interior of all things.

My favorite Thanksgiving memory, viewed on the surface, was a disaster: a power outage from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday left the turkey frozen outside on the porch and all the prepared side dishes chilled in the refrigerator. The Rockwellian image of anticipatory faces around an abundantly laid table was not to be.

Instead, extended family gathered around the wood-burning stove in the living room. We heated one dish at a time atop the stove, waiting – there was no microwaved immediacy. Slowly, slowly, in turn we enjoyed stuffing…brussels sprouts…mashed potatoes and gravy…green bean casserole…pies. The feast stretched out for hours as we talked and laughed, telling stories, and going deeper than was usually allowed by the “traditional” timing of the Thanksgiving meal we’d become accustomed to. In silent pauses the fire crackled and dishes hissed and sizzled as they warmed. No football game or movie pulled our attention away; we were stuck in the blessed present, with time to allow the soul of the moment to emerge.

We had the opportunity to reflect on our abundance, what we had rather than focusing on what was missing. Gratitude for what was overwhelmed attachment to a failed perfectionistic ideal. Sometimes the disruptions that break through our usual way are the very gift that allows us to recognize Soul imbedded in the ordinary, concrete, surface experiences of our lives.

As we gather around the table and the fire in these final weeks of 2021, let us welcome unexpected disappointments, with an eye toward discovering the Soul they may reveal.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding: in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
- Proverbs 3:5-6