Last weekend, my grandmother died. “Tutu” as we called her (Hawaiian for grandmother in honor of her favorite place) was my last living grandparent. In taking her first breath in heaven, she passed down the legacy lamp for the next generation to carry.
As one of our family’s dear friends said, “she was a regal lady.” My grandmother’s energy, heart, faith and wit leave beautiful footprints. I try to place my own feet in those imprints, feeling my soles connect with the strength hers had in walking that path. And couldn’t we all use some more strength for the journey?
The timing of Tutu’s death was especially poignant for me in light of this week’s All-Saints Day. It’s a weighty, holy time. There’s something about this time of year too – how this day on which we remember the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12) and saints comes when the earth is turning in season. When it’s dying. When with one more gorgeous burst of color, the world gives it’s best display of beauty, then drops down deep to rest.
And the life that turns to death – going underground with turning leaves and colder nights – will eventually become new, unexpected life. Fresh forms of life we will anticipate with hope and tenacity.
Because unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit….. (John 12:24)
I give thanks for Tutu. For my Dad. For the people who bore so much fruit during their lives, and now leave me a rich and bountiful feast to have and hold when I weary under my life’s weight. I give thanks for my saints.
And I give thanks for yours.
I shared this same prayer last year, and offer it once again as we remember and give God thanks for all the saints.
God of welcome and warmth,
We’re a bit melancholy – or maybe it’s pensive – on this All Saints Day. It’s a beautiful day – this time to remember and give thanks for the saints that have graced our lives. These angels – raw, real, and devoted in their humanity – that have encouraged us, emboldened us, taught us what we needed to know to survive…
We think of parents, grandparents, partners, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, teachers, colleagues, friends – some of them did seem pretty unlikely characters to be your saints, but the more we live, the more we realize that’s pretty typical of you and your choosing.
We are grateful for these quirky, lovely individuals who have gone before us but whose light still shines, bringing warmth and illumination to our own paths. Their whispers of wisdom help us hunger for a deeper wholeness found in you. They tell us we can be saints too…
We thank you, God, for the saints of the then and the saints of the now…for the saint that you are kindling inside of us. May we remain grateful for their impact on our lives and hearts – the truth they spoke and lived, the faith they held and passed on, the love they modeled and shared.
In the name, and light, and love of Christ we pray, Amen.