The Beautiful Stories of Ordinary Souls
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Welcome to November! Today is All Souls Day. It’s not a holy day that we often tune into, but we think that this day is an invitation to a See Our City in a unique way.
Why? Well, first, because we usually see our community, and the people who make up the fabric of our place, in current terms. For example, when you think of your place–your church, school, work, or civic community, who comes to mind? Is it your volunteer-friends in the summer swim league or your bible study leader at church? Is it your local police chief or your favorite check out person at the grocery?
Take a moment to think about a few people who make your place “home” in some way and picture their faces in your mind. Perhaps even give thanks for them.
All Souls Day is special because it invites us to remember our community across time. Whereas All Saints Day (November 1) commemorates departed saints, who, by definition, were special enough people to get the designation of sainthood, All Souls Day (November 2) remembers ordinary departed souls…everyone else…the not so special people who did soul work in the world.
Today we reach back in time to remember the depth of our ordinary community. As we walk our own ordinary paths, we recall how faithful people before us…pastors and schoolteachers and sidewalk-pourers and tree planters and artists and bank founders and mothers and great uncles… shaped our existence. It’s a day to remember that small stories bear fruit in big, place-making ways. It’s a day to recall the beauty of Micah 6:8:
“O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
At Kaleid, we are Seeing Our City this fall. As we consider the stories of our community and how those stories invite us to clearer perspectives and more courageous engagement with the stories God is telling in our cities, it’s fitting to appreciate the beauty of All Souls Day. It is fitting to pause and remember the faithfulness of people who planted good seeds in the soil of our places through their kindness, justice, mercy, and humility.
Charles Marsh, a religion professor at the University of Virginia and a scholar of faithful souls like Dr. King and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, claims that “the ascent to God expands the horizons of worldliness.”* In Marsh’s words, we can envision a steady stream of faithful souls moving through their days on earth, climbing closer to God as they move toward life’s end. Their ascent includes an ever-widening and ever-deepening commitment to the kindness, justice, and humility of Jesus’ kingdom coming, on earth as it is in heaven. At Kaleid we want to recognize that the stories of our past uphold the stories of our present, and we want to live with greater presence to God and to others in our place.
Blessings on your All Souls Day. May you remember with gratitude, and may you find your footing in the words of Micah 6:8. In your acts of remembrance, may you also be encouraged that your compassion and courage are being woven into the stories of your place this day. Someday, someone will give thanks for your life, too.
The Kaleid Team
*Charles Marsh, The Beloved Community, p. 6
P.S. Here is a poem for remembering:
We seem to give them back to you, dear God,
who gave them to us.
Yet as you did not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their returning.
Not as the world gives, do you give, O Lover of Souls!
What you give, you do not take away.
For what is yours is ours always, if we are yours.
Life is eternal; and love is immortal;
and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing but the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, strong Son of God,
that we may see further;
cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly;
draw us closer to yourself that we may know ourselves nearer to our beloved
who are with you.
And while you prepare a place for us,
prepare us for that happy place, that where they are, and you are,
we too may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.