November 1, 2013
Renowned writer and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky said it best: “The world will be saved by beauty.”
Today is All Saints’ Day, a time when the church marks the ineffable, indescribable connection we have to those who have gone before us. This holy day in the Christian year stands as a reminder of our connection to a vast canopy of saints and a world beyond what we know now. In a world so marred by ugliness and evil, it’s wonderful to know that God is working through the beauty of the dead and the living.
This day is also one to remind us that saints were all normal people. They lived with grace and dignity; they valued human life and the beauty of diversity. From St. Luke to St. Genevieve to the friend or loved one who has just left this world, they all share a story that intertwines love, humility, and justice. God completed a work in them, and that is the consolation we have when someone joins the glorious company of the saints of light. It may not be easy or even make sense—in fact, it often doesn’t. But God takes the very worldly institution of death and makes it out of this world with hope and resurrection.
I find it ever more appropriate that our world turns to fall as we mark All Saints’ Day. Is it any coincidence that as leaves fall and die, they become bright reminders of beauty and a reminder of what once was? Perhaps that’s the point. I can only guess, but for me that is a wonderful connection to sainthood, for in sainthood we see the beauty of what once was and the promises of community. Another person who has joined the cloud of witnesses said, “We have all known the long loneliness, and we have all found that the answer is community.”
Friends, this week, cherish those memories of community and people whom you love but see no more. In those moments, remind yourself that you too will join the community of blessed rest, for we are all homeward bound. In our quest for home, we rise and fall in grace, and ultimately that’s what makes us saints, a grace present all the days of our lives.
I’ll leave you with this prayer that has kept me in line with the saints that I love. May it find a place in your heart as well: “Support us, O Lord, all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.”
May you find comfort and strength in the saints, for they remind us of the light of life and the joy we all wish to know. In time, such beauty will save the world.
This post originally appeared in the Statesville Record, and was published in The Pulpit & the Paper: A Pastor’s Coming of Age in Newsprint by Robert W. Lee.