When I think about All Saints Day I don’t think about the Webster Dictionary definition or even the ecclesiastical definition of ‘saints’, I think about US—all 100 plus years and ten thousands and thousands plus souls and rivers of laughter and tears and sin and repentance and forgiveness and new life of US! With a name like All Saints, every time we remember or think or speak our name, we know who we are—all saints! Not because we are perfect, but because we are God’s. And we pass that deep Belonging-to-God Soul Knowledge around and around to each other and also on and on, generation to generation. Here is Mary Jo Bryan with a saints’ story for the ages:
“My husband Clay was diagnosed with advanced cancer a month after our son James was born.As Clay got sicker and sicker, (parishioner) Susan Myers started sending out email updates so I didn’t have to answer phone calls. This was before social media and Facebook and Caring Bridge.
James was born on March 8 and Clay died July 23.”
Really, one of the hardest things is to figure out how to efficiently and respectfully pass the Word along, even maybe especially when the Word is very hard and painful but help is needed.
Can some of you remember, Saints? During the crisis and for months afterward, so many of you helped feed Mary Jo when she could not think to eat. She remembers. “I got so many grand meals. Someone brought homemade blueberry muffins and for a time, tasting the goodness of those muffins was what was good in the day.” And some of you came to the hospital to care for Baby James while Mary Jo cared for her dying husband. Pat Kiley remembers carrying James outside to get him out of the sharp medicinal, institutional smells of the hospital.
Everyone did what they could.
What Mary Jo did next is what Henri Nouwen calls the ministry of the ‘Wounded Healer’.
“My uncle in Chattanooga had a ministry that reached out into parish via email. After Clay died, I talked to Chris Epperson (All Saints’ priest) and Fifi Guest and Sug Patton and Sue Mobley, and I said What can we do like that? We figured out how to use a yahoo group to send our prayer requests – just standing with each other in prayer. We also talked about asking for meals when there is a new baby or a need. So we set up cooking days when people come to church and make and freeze meals. An E-care person picks up meals and delivers them to people who need to be nourished.”
E-Care continues to this very day. Every day Saints pray for one another for that is the best, best, best gift we can give one another. And when the need arises, the Saints feed one another just like they fed Mary Jo all those years ago. Though the needs tumble around among us, the constant is our shared compassion in Christ which is, as T. S. Eliot says, ‘the still point in a turning world’.
Below is another picture. James Bryan was part of the Alaska Pilgrimage this past summer. Here he is with the world opening up before him and the other young pilgrims. Thank you God for our young people and for the hope and courage and love that we share in Christ, and for God’s future that beckons to us all, generation after generation.
Want to become a part of E-Care? To subscribe to E-Care, send an e-mail to Efirstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/E-care. Fifi Guest is E-Care’s contact person. You receive prayer requests, and you pray. The ministry is as simple and holy and powerful as that.
A blessed All Saints’ Day to you today. And see you on Sunday for quite the celebration.