"Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?"
~ James 2:5
My morning began with a call that one of my patients had passed into eternity. Over the last few months I had watched as she slowly faded into our memories, and her journey came to a close. As I gathered with her family and offered a prayer of thanksgiving for her life, and for offering her journey to be part of ours, I recalled to mind that today is All Saints Day.
There is something about this day that reminds me that we are all part of something more. What exactly makes any of us a saint?
Each year on this day, I find that I am focused on the memories of those who have died, who loved me unconditionally, and who now have entrusted me with their stories to tell.
As I listened to my patient's daughter share that she now feels a "great responsibility" as she now becomes the elder among her family, we shared how important this role will now be.
Last year as my family gathered together for a wedding, several of my cousins asked me what our great grandmother was "really like?" Their memories of our great grandmother are quite different than mine. I'm next to the oldest among my generation, having had years with my great grandmother, and having had the opportunity to know her prior to the changes that age and dementia had caused.
I talked of humor, joined with an amazing faith, and love for people, and how sad it was to see her change into someone else.
All Saints Day is about our spirit. It is the reminder that even in death, we continue to remain among the great cloud of witnesses.
Among the saints in my life are my great grandmother, grandparents, one parent, and a number of friends that have influenced and changed my life.
I love old photographs, including those that show my grandparents in front of the church that my grandfather pastored for many years.
My dad, just a child, along with his brothers. All of these men, now in the golden years of life, remember these photos and the people they knew.
To me, these photos are captured moments in time, that give insight into what a saint actually is. Somewhere between the photo and a life encounter, saints are sinners that seem to have found faith.
Perhaps a saint was born because they loved others and lived their life helping to make the lives of others better.
As I hugged family members of my patient this morning as we said our good-byes, I could sense the kingdom of God surrounding us, filled with saints and the newest member to that great cloud.
I am reminded of the spark of the Divine that continues to exist, even after the ashes of the creation have returned to the earth.
It is days and moments like these that cause me to think of how I would like to be remembered. I'm not so sure that I would consider myself a saint, but I do hope that the life that I live, and those that I know, will ultimately make a difference in the lives of others. To me, that is ultimately what a saint is and does.
I am thankful for all of those people who have influenced my life, and for the family today that shared their saint with me.
Today is the realization that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and it is filled with saints.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams, (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.