My grandmother Dorothy - Grandma Dot - died a few years ago. She lived a long life and was loved by many people. She contributed so much care to her circle of influence. And she had a good death, as those things go.
And yet, we feel her loss. Things are not the same without her. And so often, she seems so very far away.
But then, there are moments when it seems she is right here with me. When I smell the almond-flavored goodness of Spritz cookies baking at Christmas, I'd swear she was in the room. When I hear the notes of the song Finlandia, I can feel my Finnish grandma right there with me, singing along in her smoking-induced tenor voice. Sometimes, when I organize things around the house, I can feel her smiling in approval - she was quite the organized homemaker.
There are moments, sometimes, when we feel especially close to our loved ones who have died. Moments when the veil between us seems thin.
This is all a mystery, of course. We proclaim everlasting life by the grace of God, but we don't know what that looks like, exactly. Maybe these moments are explained by our brain functions or maybe our loved ones really are there...or maybe it's some phenomenon that we can't even imagine.
But, these moments happen, and they are gifts.
One of the beautiful elements of Celtic spirituality is the idea of "thin places."
These are places where, as author Eric Weiner says, "the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we're able to catch glimpses of the divine or the transcendent..."
This Sunday, as we celebrate All Saints' Sunday, we celebrate the thin places.
We remember our loved ones who have died, and indeed, we celebrate the lives of the saints and sinners of all time. We remember that we are connected, across space, time, and deep mystery, to those who have gone before and to those who are yet to come.
We remember, we give thanks, we mourn, perhaps, and we rejoice.
And, we honor the thin places that are always in our midst: the font and the table. We are united in the baptismal waters with all of God's children. We are immersed in the reality that we are loved no matter what, for all eternity. And as we gather around the table to eat and drink, we become the body of Christ - a body that exists in every time and place. We are connected. We are one. We are God's, forever.
This Sunday, as we light candles, ring bells, and remember, let us celebrate the thin places. Let us give thanks that in God, we are one, forever.
Peace be with you,