After the commercial hoopla of Halloween is over, we look around our world, perhaps with a more spiritual view to the beauty of nature. We see Indian summer yielding to the warm colors of fall with the promise of winter already in the air. As we celebrate the seasons and begin to make plans for Thanksgiving and beyond, on All Saints’ Day we pause for a quiet moment of reflection - to remember, honor, and give thanks for the saints in our lives.
Because our experience of grief is so intimate and personal, often we memorialize our loved ones in isolation. Yet when we invite others into the sacred space of our grief, we share our story of love and loss with those in need of spiritual encouragement and community. And whether this happens on All Saints’ Day, at holiday gatherings, or another time, when we open our hearts to close family members, acquaintances, or even relative strangers we put our saints in circulation.
During the seventeenth-century reign of Oliver Cromwell in Great Britain, the government ran low on silver for coins. Cromwell sent his men to the local cathedral to see if they could find any precious metals. They reported, "The only silver we could find is in the statues of the saints standing in the corners." Cromwell replied, "Good! We'll melt them down and put them into circulation!" Those we love in life and remember in death are our saints. Their eternal qualities are an enduring, lasting legacy to us. We put our saints in circulation when the gifts of their spirit live on through us long after they die.
When I reflect today on those who’ve enriched my life emotionally and spiritually I remember with profound gratitude the love of my father and the life-altering influence of my beloved husband. Some describe those whose lives are well-lived as durable saints. I like to think of my saints in this way because they’re a daily presence in my life – enduring, eternal, everlasting.
In his book Longing for Enough in a Culture of More Rev. Paul Escamilla, writes this about durable saints, “Among the varied ways faithfulness has become the fabric of their lives, one quality has been identifiable again and again: a certain adequacy of means that issues forth in abundance for others.”
He continues, “At their passing, these durable saints have signed the air not so much with fanfare as grace. The ledgers of their lives are long in matters of generosity, self-giving, and trust; more measured in the realm of acquisition and possessions; and slimmest of all in regard to recognition and self-promotion. In other words, over a lifetime they seem to have needed little and offered much.”
I give thanks to God for the saints of my life who have blessed and cared for me with their faithful love, authentic goodness, soulful compassion, and their example of sterling faith. The most valuable inheritance we can leave those we love is the essence of ourselves – the gifts of our spirit. For when we die, we live on in eternal glory and in the lives of those who for a while will grieve, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4 NIV). In life and in death we are saints in circulation.
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
Romans 14:7-8 NRSV
Keep me this day, O God, in the sanctity of your saints. Amen.