Somewhere in the basement, there’s a set of metal yard decorations… the Peanuts gang doing the Halloween thing.
Go ahead! You can see them in your heart!
Frankly, this particular season feels more complicated than usual, just now.
Construction next door made inviting trick-or-treaters seem unwise. Blessings to the dear neighbor who adopted and distributed our candy while we hid in the studio with all the front lights out!
Then there’s the whole Samhain tradition which I’m just beginning to grasp.
There are also other reasons that life feels more complex this year. Learning new things often causes that to happen!
First, though, a brief trip down memory lane for some filter shifting!
Somewhere in the mid 1990’s, I was taking an on-campus course just down the road, at Columbia Theological Seminary. I think I needed to be there! And one of the big advantages was Dr. Walter Brueggemann, preaching in chapel. On All Saints’ Day.
Mind you, saints are not a huge topic of conversation in the land of Reformed Theology. (At least they weren’t, back then…) Walter was not deterred!
What struck me so much about what he said was this:
The Saints are the ones who believe for us, even on days when we can’t quite believe for ourselves!
I am blessed to have a growing family of those folks!
And, I hear those words of Uncle Walter’s – rattling in my heart – differently now than I used to. You see, now I know more.
I know of two great aunts, Mary Ayers Neil and Alice Ayers… sisters, hanged as witches in Salem on the same day in 1692. Or, to paraphrase something I saw on Facebook recently, hanged as women who couldn’t be controlled by the limitations of their culture.
Then there are the stories I’ve learned about my 49th and 47th great grandmothers, Itta and Begga, likely connected to the Beguines, who were honored as Saints… women who used their relative education and resources to help other women be less controlled by arranged marriages and the inheritance laws of the 6th and 7th centuries in Europe.
This is Grammy Begga…
And five or so centuries farther back, the two Jewish grandfathers named Hezekiah, and their wives… grandmothers whose names I am still hoping to find.
Long-gone ancestors trying to live as whole people in a context where that was unthinkable.
In this moment, knowing deep in my being that some of those who believe for us on the days we can’t quite manage it ourselves literally live on in my cells and in my granddaughters, helps somehow.
And I’ll take all of that I can get just now!
You see, I’m feeling pretty vulnerable in this moment and I don’t especially enjoy it!
It is, however, another chance to add some contemporary Saints to my list!
Beth and Laura and Janice and Jenna… my physical therapy tribe. When parking lot dysfunction met lost met big trauma trigger, they rallied around me and believed when I couldn’t quite. Huge bows and thanks!!!
And you know what’s even better than that???
Because I asked for and received support, I made it home and, after a nap, was able to believe for a couple of other wise women with bumps in their days.
When you get right down to it, that’s a pretty great use of a day!
Which just might be what Walter — who is a fan of very large hope — had in mind…
ps… I am fortunate to be learning stories of some of my actual saints. A big part of the reason that’s been possible is that some of my ancestors had the resources and education to actually write the stories down and protect them. If, perhaps, you don’t know so many of your stories, I’m happy to lend you mine until you know more. Better yet… paint some for yourself! (They really work!) Like Grandmother Moon, at the top, who believes in me enough to whisper wisdom in my ear while I sleep! Her other name, just in case you’re curious, is Asherah… the Mother Goddess of many ancient traditions, including my own.
pps… not sure you’re an artist, yet? Or need a Saint in a hurry? Meet She Takes Her Place Among the Ancestors! She’s a great way to start your collection, on archival poster paper, or even a mug! And, browse around… there’s a whole lot of believing for you going on at FierceArtWithHeart! (And great gifts!)
ppps… oh! I’m also supposed to tell you that the same lovely lady, below, is a book cover! A book full, by the way, of lots of empowering stories… Turning Points, if you will. (Check it out!)