Today, November 1st, is the feast of All Saints. One of the lines from the reading from Revelation says, “…I saw before me a huge crowd which no one could count from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne, dressed in long white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”
We are, each of us, in the family of saints, whether or not we choose to live the calling. We are all called to be part of the “huge crowd…from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” I wonder why those who rail against others, and there’s a lot of railing going on these days, don’t use these biblical verses. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful gift to everyone in this country if we could go to the polls tomorrow and consider our choices as saints who are serving rather than demons who are corrupting?
Our elections are turning into spectacles.
What does it mean to be a “saint?” In the American Heritage Dictionary, saint is defined as:1: a. A person officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church and certain other churches as being entitled to public veneration and as being capable of interceding for us on earth; one who has been canonized. b. any person who has died and gone to heaven. c. Any baptized believer in Christ, according to the New Testament. d. Capital S. A member of any of various religious groups, especially a Latter-Day Saint. 2. A very holy person. 3. A charitable, unselfish, or patient person.
Well that seems to include a wide variety of races, faces, and tongues. What’s also interesting about the word is that there’s an Indo-European root. In other words, there were saints before the Christians and the New Testament came along. So that sort of gives c. above a little less leverage. The IE form, sak, means to sanctify. Sanctifying means to make holy, and holy is related to the word whole.
To make whole. Well, sigh. Wouldn’t that be a glorious ending to tomorrow’s vote and to all the shouting and blaming and roust-a-bouting? A wholeness.
And that brings me back to Walt Kelly’s Pogo, a saint in his own right and certainly in my mother’s eyes, and his ever famous remark, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Although we are missing All Saints’ Day and election day being the same day by one day, perhaps we could pretend. We could all pretend to be saints. We could all play out the role of being number 3. above and being the patient person who hurls no ashes or stones, in word or deed. We could plan on simply smiling at one another as we enter our polling places. Or, on the other hand, we could simply celebrate tomorrow as All Souls, which it is. For all us poor souls, let us pray.
So here’s to extending All Saints’ Day through tomorrow; here’s to being part of the “huge crowd which no one could count from every nation, race, people, and tongue…”; and here’s to a return to wholeness.