Friday, November 01, 2013

For all the saints

So November begins - and with it for writers across the internet a month of specific daily commitment to their craft. My beloved daughter is focussed on not one but two novels (and being her, I'm confident that she'll achieve them) but I lack her creative gifts so it's all about the blog here. The hope is that having someone else in the house who is writing manically every day will ensure that I manage something too - so I'm taking a deep breath & attempting a commitment to NaBloPoMo. Some posts may be negligible, but I promise to do my best.

1st November is the feast of All Saints - surely one of the loveliest of all the Christian calendar. On twitter this morning there were many many posts with the #forallthesaints as people gave thanks for their own personal saints, who had inspired, encouraged and blessed them.

So, today and on every day "I thank my God on each remembrance of....."

J- the larger-than-life director of music at my school - who took the risk of allowing a girl to become head chorister - whose passion for perfection in the music of worship opened up a world that I longed to inhabit, which drew me in and shaped everything I have been and done from then on.

Another J - the farmer who was our neighbour when we first moved out from London. One of the kindest and most truly courteous people I have ever encountered. When we moved to the village, life was rather a struggle:the children were tiny, the house was a building site, we had no money and for about 2 years it felt as if I was never out of jumble-sale clothes or to be seen without plaster-dust in my hair. But the route to school was past J's gate - and the unfailing warmth of his greetings, his unaffected compliments and the sheer goodness he radiated always left me feeling that life WOULD be alright in the end.
When he died of cancer, the entire community came to a halt for his funeral and we realised that he had been a kind of honorary guardian-angel for much of the village. Whenever I see a tweedy type with a black labrador, I smile as I remember.

A & J - an elderly couple who adopted my children as "church grandparents" when we first moved from London. Sunday by Sunday, the welcomed the children to sit with them, read their collection of church books, fed the toddlers with breadsticks where necessary and generally made a gift of their time to me - so that I was free to listen, to pray, to worship. Were it not for them, I suspect I would never have heard God's call to ordination.

T - the first parishioner with whom I journeyed through the long march of bereavement and, in time, on his own journey towards death. As we put one hesitant foot in front of another along that inexorable road, it was wonderful to see the fear replaced by a quiet confidence and courage. He taught me so much, bless him.

J, my precious beloved godmother, whose unconditional love and affirmation supported me through some of the hardest times of my life. Her letters, in that beautiful italic script, were a treasure - offering glimpses of her life, her pleasure in the changing seasons, her family, her animals, her garden. I'm told that at her funeral (in Denmark, on a day when I was committed to a wedding here) her parish priest described her as a "thin" person - one through whom the light shone for all to see. She always shone for me.

My parents, and those who hugged and cherished me when they had gone...
The hugely different priests, women and men, who have showed me different ways in which I might live a calling that seemed impossible at the outset...
Friends, living and departed, who encourage me, pray for me, trust me with their vulnerabilities and listen as I share mine.

Then, of course, there are those long-gone, whose lives or work inspired and blessed me...
Herbert, Donne and Andrewes among the writers; Bach,Tallis, Gibbons, Byrd, and countless others whose music weaves patterns of sound that echo the perfection of that chorus around the throne of God.

My favourite story for today concerns an apocryphal small boy who was asked in the "children's spot" at church to define a saint. In a moment of panic, he forgot the carefully prepared lesson his Sunday school teachers had offered, and casting about for inspiration saw the haloed figures in the stained glass...
"A saint", he said, "is someone the Light shines through"

I'm thankful for so many, today and every day.


Ricarda said...

Thank you Kathryn. Reading this has helped me breathe a little more steadily tonight! X

ragaMuffin said...

thank you, for this ...