Saints and Souls

by The Rev. Heath Howe, Family Ministries

We have this small pottery bowl that is kept on the entry table just inside our front door. Inside the bowl are small cards, and on each card is a cartoon-like picture of an angel. Next to the picture is a word. Some cards hold words you might expect such as Love, Peace, or Joy. Other cards have words like Freedom, Creativity, or Courage. Still other cards have words on them such as Harmony, Synthesis, or Balance. Finally, some cards hold rather practical or directive words like Education or Responsibility. We use these cards daily in my family in a particular way. Each day as each of us leaves home, we gather around the bowl, close our eyes, and choose a card. Whichever angel you choose is the angel who travels with you that day, and it is the angel you bring to all those whom you encounter.

When I first introduced the practice to my family, I was ready for some eye rolling. However, they all enjoy it. In fact, Eli is usually the one reminding us to choose our angel. We have even expanded the idea a bit by suggesting that the angel you choose helps you decide how you want to show up in the world today. We cannot control the world, as much as we might want to, nor can we anticipate exactly how our day will go. We can, however, choose how we would like to show up each day. We can walk into our day frustrated, anxious, or bored. Or we can show up curious, open, or present. It is our choice, and at my house our angels are our companions and set the tone.

As we move into the month of October, I am reminded that we do not only travel with angels or archangels, but with all the company of heaven. As we move closer and closer to Halloween, or All-Hallows-Eve, we are also stepping closer to All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. On those sacred holidays of the Christian calendar we remember the incredible, larger-than-life folks who came before us, the saints, and the incredible, loving individuals, who left their fingerprints on our hearts and whom we knew in our lifetime, the souls.

I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone as I move throughout my day. If I choose to I can call on St. Teresa of Avila when I am teaching Sophie about contemplative prayer. Then again, I can also listen for my father's laugh and hear him cheer while I sit watching Eli's baseball game. Saints and Souls are all part of the company of heaven, and all travel with us in some mystical way during our day.

When I look at where we are as human beings I find strength knowing that Saints and Souls are among us. They, like us, lived in a time of injustice and fear in one way or another. Their stories are of people who knew the love of Christ, a love that binds all together and is built on serving the Other among us. Their stories tell of people who trusted God and let go of the lie that we ourselves determine salvation. Their stories are of people who were willing to be vulnerable, to look foolish, to risk reputation or power for the sake of love. What wonderful guides and companions for us now.

The angel I chose this morning was Brotherhood/Sisterhood. I usually hope this is the angel Sophie or Eli will choose to ensure the CHANCE of a peaceful ride to and from high school. However, I am glad this was the angel I chose. As I looked at the cartoon picture next to the word, I noticed the angels were standing side-by-side, holding hands, and that they were of various ethnicities. Much like the saints and souls were. I pray this angel will stay with all of us in the days ahead. May we reflect this month on what it means to live as the human family which is a part of and not the controller of creation. How will we show up each day to reflect the love of God? How we will bring true compassion to all we meet? What does it mean to actually live in right relationship with one another? Are we brave enough to really follow Christ and live such a radical life? I hope so.

Huh? Maybe Hope is the angel we all need with us today and each day after that as well.