In our Catholic Church, the month of November is dedicated to the precious souls in Purgatory. Those souls like so many before have become the Cloud of Witnesses in heaven.
Several years ago a friend had asked me, in a couple of hundred words or less, to tell of the cloud of witnesses, “by the testimony of their lives and the sharing of their understanding” that have brought us to our faith today.
Seriously!? In 200 words or less?
Imagine if you will the seed pod of a milkweed. The pod contains hundreds of ripened seeds of faith that float on the Breath of God into our lives. The delicate seeds don’t land all at once, they don’t germinate at the same time, and some travel great distances before they reach the soil of our souls. Once rooted, that seed of faith grows — and spreads exponentially, if you’ve ever seen a field of milkweeds!
So how do I thank the hundreds of witnesses in my life? How do I choose a favorite flower? Which seed set the greater root? Was the first seeding more fruitful than the fiftieth?
I would need a decade to write thank-you notes to every soul that touched mine; from the impaired woman at church who tried to wipe my nose when I was 3 years old to the 86-year-old mother of a friend who the other day offered prayers on my behalf. They each in some way gave a gratuitous gift and I am grateful to all who have brought me closer to God.
We’ve spent a good part of the month on who and what of death. I am reminded of this, from Bishop Charles Henry Brent.
What is dying?
A ship sails and I stand watching
till she fades on the horizon,
and someone at my side
says, “She is gone”.
Gone where? Gone from my sight,
that is all; she is just as
large as when I saw her…
the diminished size and total
loss of sight is in me, not in her,
and just at the moment
when someone at my side
says “she is gone”, there are others
who are watching her coming,
and other voices take up the glad shout,
“there she comes!” …and that is dying.
Ponder: Who were the cloud of witnesses that brought you to your Christian faith? Are they still living? Why not send them a short note of thanks, as Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
Copyright 2018 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB