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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Saints Day

 On All Saints' Day, it is not just the saints of the church that we should remember in our prayers, but all the foolish ones and wise ones, the shy ones and overbearing ones, the broken ones and whole ones, the despots and tosspots and crackpots of our lives who, one way or another, have been our particular fathers and mothers and saints, and whom we loved without knowing we loved them and by whom we were helped to whatever little we may have, or ever hope to have, of some kind of seedy sainthood of our own. 

~ Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey



An ordinary one takes longer
than the three-day miracle
but wait — it will come.
There must be time to cancel
the memory of oven doors
closing with soft pneumatic whoosh,
and artificial wreaths fade slowly.
Then there are possessions —
soft hats resembling their owners
and sweater pockets
still bulging with illegible notes.
But after six months or a year at most,
there begins the benign haunting —
familiar hum or whistle,
brush upon clothing, upon skin;
presence, remembrance.
You stand at wintered windows
and catch their images in your face
their gestures in your limbs
spirits reclothing themselves
in your flesh.
~ Shirley Graves Cochrane, Letters to the Quick, Letters to the Dead


My daddy (who died suddenly when I was sixteen years old) had an unconscious habit of hissing a tune. It wasn’t whistling, nor was it humming.  It was in between. Through closed teeth he hissed whatever tune he couldn’t get out of his head.  Most of the time he didn’t even know he was doing it because he was busy doing something else; driving a car, hoeing the garden, sitting under a shade tree. I remember it as a comforting presence, this tune hissing.
         One day…(many years after Daddy’s death), I was working alone in my study when I felt the undeniable presence of my daddy. I knew if I were to turn around, he would be standing there behind me. It was that real. Then I heard it, that old familiar, comforting hissing sound - coming from my own breath.   Resurrection comes in the most surprising ways.
         Dreams stop and memory fades, but some memories never go away. These memories live on; last suppers, last words, last laughter, last pre-dawn shadows of sound and light, last expressions of surprise. These memories live on because they are holy, sacred.  It is in these memories that mysterious, invisible, and absent become real, visible, and present. It is in these memories where the mute speaks, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the dead live.  Some of these memories are as close as our own breath. 

~ Andrew Walton,  “The Last Supper”

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