all saints

dad paver

Every year the church pauses to name the saints who are no longer physically with us.

This year we will be shepherded into and out of worship by bagpipes. The blast of sound will serve as a musical rupture of the thin veil separating the living from the dead.

The service is so very alive. We name church members who have died in the previous year and project their faces onto our screen as we savor the ways they have blessed and changed us.

This year our church has been changed by 20 deaths. While the grief around their passing is so very real so too is the pleasure of saying their names and remembering their being.

The seminary that I attended offered an opportunity to memorialize beloveds through buying a paver for a newly finished chapel courtyard. Since my father was for a time adjunct faculty at UTS and since my heart longs for places and times where his name can be in the hearts of the now, it felt so good to create a reminder that once he was, even as he still is in the hearts of many.

And of course during this thin veil time, I wonder about my own death and the day when it will be my face on the screen, my name on the lips, my being bookended with birth and death dates.

Poet Mary Oliver asks : “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Tomorrow we name those who answered that question every day they were given.

And so it comes to us.

How is it we plan to enter fully the wild and precious gift that is life?

Mindfully or no, we live our answer.

back to school

Maybe it’s the years of being a student.  Or the years of being a teacher.  Or the years of being a parent.  Or the years of being a pastor.  Whatever it is that conspires to open my pores to new adventures, it is most powerfully present in the fall of the year.

I love this time of year.

At the cabin, the sunlight is a molten gold.  The compunction to gorge on all that is summer loosens, and the time seems precious and sweet, worthy of a still savor.  In the city, it is fun to pass children on their way to school, hands tucked into their parent’s and hearts open to all that awaits in the year to come.  Living as I do with a football maniac, I am regaled by stories of training and games, and our television brings into our home the celebration that is football.

And there is church.  The scurry is on to find Sunday School teachers and the choir commences practicing and as for me and my house, we feature the accordian on Rally Sunday and what could be more festive than that?  It is good for the heart to anticipate reconnecting with kin in Christ.

Today I had my own “back to school” treat.  I gather with a group of amazing colleagues throughout the year.  We gather to share stories and joys and aches and to share in the pleasure of each other’s giftedness.  We have been together, some of us, for some seven years, so the stories of our churches, seminaries, children and lives are known and honored.  Today, after a summer hiatus, we came together. Just laying eyes on such fine folk was juice for my soul.

Somehow, this time of year makes me mindful of the learning I long to do in this classroom called my life.  In each person I encounter, in each moment given, the opportunity to learn about myself, life, and the Holy is offered.

I’m praying I have the sense to take life up on the learning that is offered.  Back to school it is, day by day by day.