Tomorrow we celebrate one of my most favorite days of the year–Dia de los Muertos. The nave comes alive with pictures of those we love but see no longer. For a moment, that silent cloud of witnesses, our fellow members of the communion of saints, is no longer silent. We hear them speak across a vast divide.
Yesterday, I spent some time at St. Michael’s. First I stood before the ofrenda. There, directly behind the altar, were pictures of those long-time members of St. Michael’s who have died–Ruth Fluke her head tilted just as it was when she was listening intently; Barbara Carrington whose warm smile and gracious ways ushered many newcomers into St. Michael’s; Ralph Carrington–I still remember the dignified way he carried the plate when he was ushering. There were no pictures of Juanita and Ellis Roper. That’s okay. I carry their pictures in my head and heart.
I slipped into the pew I used to share with Ellis and Juanita (the second one from the back on the left side as you face the altar). There I sat–but not in silence. Ellis’s warm southern drawl echoed through the years and Juanita’s stories punctuated the silent space. Then one of you joined me in the silence. There we were together–past, present and future joined before the altar. Each holding separate stories; each joining in our shared story.
Today, as I select the pictures I will bring to our ofrenda, I find myself remembering those whom I love but see no longer–both those who have died in the last year and those long gone. I sort through the pictures, pick them up, hold them for a moment, remember the ways we are connected with one another, and recall a story of our shared life. In that moment the grace of those who are no longer here with me in this life casts a warm light. We are together once again.