Grief. Even days, months, years after the hurricane that is a loved-one's death first arrives on our shore, grief still brings strong winds across our skies, our fields, our pathways. If there is Joy, it is somehow mixed with sorrow, with the awareness of loss, with the knowledge that someone whom we shared so many holidays past with, so many special times, so ordinary times with, is now not here. Maybe there is that nagging sense that things are too different now. It brings to mind that Emily Dickson poem, which may describe the feeling: “There's a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons – That oppresses, like the Heft Of Cathedral Tunes.” In the wake of losing someone who was always there, our days’ slant of light has changed. The heaviness, the heft aches even amid sunlight.
Time progresses, as time in its nature does. And hopefully, we are able to see a little more easily. We are able to feel the many gifts this human life offers. The gift of fond memories becomes indelible, priceless, powerful.
So in honor of all this, we take time this All Saints Sunday to recall the memory of loved-ones. We offer a space and a moment here and invite you to remember and honor a loved-one that has touched your life and whose memory continues to touch your life by simply quietly reciting their name and a word that represents them. This is a sacred time for you to allow your loved-ones name and a descriptive word to represent all those precious memories and times that you shared with them, those holy moments that live in the sacred spaces of your life.
So let us first experience some moments of silence, then I will begin the reciting of names by offering the name of a loved-one I dearly miss this year.
[Reciting of Names]
We clasp the hands of those that go before us,
And the hands of those who come after us.
We enter the little circle of each other's arms
And the larger circle of loved-ones,
Whose hands are joined in a dance,
And the larger circle of all creatures,
Passing in and out of life,
Who move also in a dance,
To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it
Except in fragments
Renewal and Hope
Life, love, and loss are sadly inseparable. To live is to love, and to love is to lose. Such a process is unavoidable. The cost of love is loss. But we must pay the price if we are to live meaningful lives, lives moved by compassion and vulnerability, the priceless gift we give of seeing and feeling of another’s pain.
Amidst it all, amidst the darkness and the loss, there is a light to be found. Fortunately, dawn arrives after a long night. Light always overcomes the dark. A child, even if far away in a distant land, is born amid this bleak winter. Emily Dickinson reminds us of this with a wonderful poem maybe you memorized as a child.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
May we realize that, yes, sorrow cannot be denied, but life, life with a capital L, the life of the heavens and the earth, progresses. It moves along in ebbs and flows like the water that begets life. One night ends; a new day begins. Moments of darkness roll into the light of sunshine. As one life passes, a new one begins with a cry, a tears of a newborn and the tears of parents entwine.
The scripture tells us, “and a child shall lead them.” In the new births realized everywhere around us – births of life and of moments – may our memories of our loved-ones move into the surmise that each life and each moment before us is a miracle, containing the hope and renewal once believed gone but now reborn.
So I close with a prayer and let this be our pastoral prayer this morning...
May you each and every day allot for yourself a time of remembrance and a time of hope and renewal. May we see each day that all that we are now is because of all that we learned from and experienced with and in others. May we see that to honor this truth is one of the most important things we can do. May we take some time to breathe, to be still and know the holiness of each and every day. May we breathe in God’s love and breathe out God’s love with the world. May we take-in to our thoughts and prayers those who need God’s presence, peace, and healing and may we reach out to those who need a friend. And let us give God who is Love the thanks for its in Love's name we pray, Amen.