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.

heart beat

I love being asked to play outside of my usual playground.

An invitation came in from a beloved volunteer at church:  would I speak with the Auxiliary at Walker Methodist?  The requested topic was this:  Why Volunteering Matters.

It was like being asked to talk about why it matters that my heart beats.

I’m never sure what I will meet when I get out of my usual round of role and people.  In this case, I was able to sit at table with people who give time and heart to enriching the lives of residents at senior care facilities.

Walker’s statement of their being is that Walker Methodist is about life, and all the living that goes with it.

I was treated to some of that life today.

It was gift for me.  Any time I get to sit at table with people who give themselves away, I am blessed.  I was able to hear from them why it was they answered their call to ministry and why it was they spend heart stuffs at Walker.

People are amazing.  Two of the people at the table came to the facility because loved ones had been residents for a time.  They came to know first hand the importance of human compassion and care.  And, wonder of wonders, someone noticed their big hearts and invited them to use their gifts.  Many around the table had been volunteers at Walker for decades.  All walked in shine.

Volunteering means we see that we have something powerful to share.  That’s a wondrous thing; to feel that we have something within us worth unpacking and growing.

Volunteers at Walker and at churches and in the community play cards and serve coffee and drive church vans and time swim meets and read books and hug children and welcome and bless.  In so doing, they become part of a web of care that holds us all when life feels wobbly.

So, to all who volunteer, thank you.

You make for heart beat in the world.