One of my favorite "holidays" in the church year is All Saints Day/Sunday. It gives me and everyone a chance to remember the people who have made a difference in our lives; both those who are still alive today and those who have gone before us. Today in worship we emphasized the latter; the congregation has gone through a major grieving period and I felt it was important to acknowledge this and remember the names of all of those people who were special to us who have passed away. We set up a card table with a whole bunch of tealights and after a short meditation, I invited folks to come forward and name a saint and say a word or two about that person. It was truly amazing to see the number of people come forward and - as was later told to me - have the picture on the rotating powerpoint often be that same person being lifted up as the candle was lit.
I know I am surrounded by saints all the time. My cloud of witnesses is big. I shared yesterday some pictures of my grandfather - who was probably the most loving and patient man I have ever met. The picture of him with a bird perched on his finger says it all; being able to hold still long enough and be so peaceful for such a length of time as to allow a bird to feel safe enough to land on his finger is a feat in and of itself! I remember dancing around in the smoke of his pipe, chasing it around and enjoying the smell of it. I remember when I would go shopping with my grandparents; my grandmother and I would be halfway through the store and Papa would still be wandering around, taking time out to look at different things and be curious about them - didn't matter what it was! I remember his messy workbench with wires and half-open electrical contraptions strewn about. I also remember all of his gadgets that he had throughout the house (mostly in the basement, though!) - like a pair of dolphins rotating around in a circle, powered by the induced current a changing magnetic field makes.
Sometimes I feel bad for not having the opportunity to get to know him better. We lived so far away and we only got to see him and Nammie about once a year; twice if we were lucky! But I know he continues to watch me as I grow...and I hope that he can be proud of me! (I'm sure he is, but...yeah. :-) )