As part of our All Saints Sunday service, my church puts out a book, and we can write the names of the dead, either the ones who have died in the past year or the ones we keep in our hearts. Below is a picture from last year, as I forgot to take my camera yesterday:
It reminds me of the book the monks of Mepkin Abbey put out each November, although the Mepkin book feels like it will be more permanent. When I was there several years ago, I wrote the names of my mother-in-law and grandparents who had died. I found it much more moving than I thought it would be to write the names on the page and to think of that book being preserved at the monastery. I tend to believe in monasteries as protectors and preservers of culture, regardless of what comes at them, and so inscribing the names felt important.
At one point in the service yesterday, we prayed for the names in the book, and we could add names either out loud or in our hearts. After the service, my spouse and I realized we hadn't added the name of our colleague who died in a horrible diving accident.
Happily prayer isn't a time-limited thing. I spent much of the past few weeks praying for him and his family.
I've also thought of the idea of a book of the dead as a powerful symbol for what has been lost. I haven't played with this idea except as it pertains to people. Maybe I will this week.
Yesterday my heart was heavy not just with the memory of those who are lost to me through death, but of jobs lost, of relationships strained because of that loss. I'm thinking of my old school. The school I'm mourning, however, is not the school that exists right now. It hasn't existed the way I think of it for many years.
Let me pray:
Comforter God, we give thanks for all these memories of those we have loved and lost, even as the loss makes us sad. Help us not to let our sadness overwhelm us. Let us know when to hang on to memories and when to face our daily tasks. And remind us that although loss seems so very permanent, we know that loss does not have the final word--that through you, not even death can make that final severance.
feeling the feelings…
6 months ago