Welcome back, friends! Missed you last week!
I have a good excuse for being MIA, though: I was on retreat in Blue Hill, ME, where I prayed, hiked, and wrote my way through the final chapters of my eco-fantasy novel The Place Where Magic Begins. After an all-night writing session that shaded into a narrative-as-therapy session that shaded into an ecstatic, trance-like channeling experience, I brought the first draft of my first novel to completion...
I'm still living my way into the aftermath, but I'm already confident it was one of the more important spiritual experiences of my life. More on that soon, I hope!
Any road: while hiking in Acadia National Park, letting the story work its way through my body, I tried imagining what the dedications page to this novel might look like, and found myself overwhelmed by all the people (and places) I want to thank for helping bring this novel to birth. It reminded me of my ordination in the United Church of Christ a little more than a year ago, and how I felt the presence not only of those who were physically there (including some of my dearest beloveds), but of a huge, loving "cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 11:1) surrounding and affirming my call.
Maybe you've had moments in life where you've felt that "cloud of witnesses" surrounding you, holding you in your sorrow, delighting in your joy. In the Christian tradition, we have a feast day in their honor: November 1, the Feast of All Saints/All Souls. Drawing from (or, if you're feeling less charitable, culturally misappropriating from) the indigenous pagan religions of Europe, we talk about All Saints Day as a "thin place" where this world and the Otherworld touch. "Heaven and earth are only three feet apart," my people the Irish like to say, "but in the thin places the distance is even smaller."
So, this week, I offer up a song we sang at my ordination, actually, and which seems an obvious fit for observances of the Feast of All Saints/All Souls. Here's "Since We Are Surrounded." As ever, if you want to use it in worship this week, please do! Just shoot me an email for bulletin info and consider making a one-time $10 donation under the "Support Us" tab.
May you ever be surrounded, Beloveds, by the One(s) who love you most.