All Saints' Day has to be one of my very favorite holy days on the liturgical calendar. It's quiet– scooting into our lives after the hubbub and candy rush of Halloween. The colors shift out of the ordinary and into punches of red and gold for a day and then back to ordinary. If you're not looking for it, you could miss it.
The same is true with remembering our saints, those personal heroes of the faith who helped shape us into followers of Jesus. I have my list... it begins the same every year, but lately, it keeps growing as it happens when years add up and silver hairs spice up my plain ol’ brown ones..
I remember my grandfather, Harold B. Cornelison, Aggie Preacher turned Army Chaplain turned Lifelong Pastor and teacher. While I had many in my family who I looked up to in the faith, he is the one who pointed me to Jesus just when I thought I was doing just fine, thank you very much. So many aspects of his personality rush back when I think of my Popo–how he loved Dolly Parton, his strong and determined signature, how his blue eyes crinkled when he laughed. I remember getting to play with his typewriter he used to write his sermons, with black ink for his words and red for those of Christ. He was also my first, great loss when a sudden heart attack took him from my world when I was sixteen. I still had so many questions to ask; he still had so many stories to share.
He was the first of many of my personal saints: Papaw, Mema, Mamaw, a precious woman from my church growing up named Babe Wise, Uncle Darrel and Aunt Judy, Kurt, Fred, Glenn, Joice, Nan…
On one of my very first All Saints’ Day observances here at DaySpring, I was privileged to sit next to Katy Stokes. The inevitable “ugly cry” came over me, remembering Popo and others, and Katy just grabbed my hand and held on. What a tender gesture of comfort and presence that has stayed with me all these years. She’s on my list, as I’m sure she has stayed on many of our lists.
And now, in this almost a year since we lost our Papa, Saint Wayne Thomas Edwards, the comfort of the Spirit that unites all of our faith is as present as it ever has been. This practice of pausing to honor our saints has been healing for our family and continues to be meaningful to me.
There is good to be gained from looking back, from remembering where we came from, from remembering who helped us get to where we are and who we are. The good that comes with every observance of All Saints’ is gratitude. May their faith continue to strengthen ours, and may our faith pour out to others in a similar way.
Thanks be to God for my saints… and yours. Let the bells ring out.