By Dr. Phaedra P. Blocker
One of the reasons I have grown to love the Church (liturgical) calendar is that it helps us keep in touch with aspects of our Christian heritage that we sometimes overlook as our attention is grabbed by the bigger, “splashier” celebrations. The beginning of November is one of those times for me.
Once we have done with our theologizing and celebration — or refusal to do so — of All Hallows Eve (Halloween), and before we start preparing our Thanksgiving dinner menus, we are invited to turn our thoughts to the commemoration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day (November 1 and 2). Allhallowtide, as the two-day commemoration is sometimes called, honors the lives of believers who have transitioned from grace to glory. In various ways, the Church pauses in these final days before Advent to remember the faithful who have died, but who will gather with us again in the Resurrection.
In some traditions, distinctions are made between honoring the historic “heroes” and “heroines” of the faith, and “ordinary” people. But I think that it is more fitting to remember all those who now sit among the “great cloud of witnesses” because each has reflected, as brightly or dimly as they were able, the imago Dei. And for this, we can be grateful.
As we continue this journey toward justice, Allhallowtide provides a time for us to remember not just well-known names, like Dr. King and Ida B. Wells, who fought so valiantly for justice in this country, but also lesser known individuals like Georgia Gilmore, who used her skills a cook to help finance the Civil Rights Movement and support its leaders and participants.
Let us remember, too, the ordinary, often unnamed folks who have worked for justice — in their homes, in their schools, in their communities, and across the world without fuss or fanfare. They simply believed that seeking justice and loving others really was what Jesus meant when he said, “Follow me.”
The road we trod toward justice is still stony, but many who have gone before us have left footprints for us to step into. Take time to remember them this month — and call their names with a word of thanksgiving.
Grace and peace,