|Slowly the lightglobe in our smaller church is filling up.|
As I am watching a documentary about the road to the White House, my thoughts are wandering rather far away from the dirty campaigning and the hidden skeletons in wardrobes . This week has been quite unusual. Pope Francis was here, making many people happy and hopeful and others angry and grudgy. Halloween passed unnoticed because of the evil clowns roaming the country, nobody even dared to dress up.
Since that date also is Reformationday we told our girls there was no need for candy ...
This week , finally, is the week for All Saints day and All souls Day.
What it actually means is that people gather from all over, they take their flowerpots, their candles, their rakes and shuffles to take care of familygraves and honour their loved ones by decorating and cleaning up. We open up the church for coffee, candlesticks and quiet conversation. People come back, year after year to come in and have a chat and some coffee.
In the evening, the church fill up for the services.
Rather hopeful services with a lot of music, singing and a will to speak of death without fear. We have dealt with the gospel about salt and light, we have spoken about the seed that needs to die. There are hugs, laughter and tears when we meet like this.
But to prepare myself I take walks among the visitors in the churchyard, where the conversation takes many forms, not always related to the gospel or even the church.
Many many different stories are told in those meetings, stories about people I never met, stories about people I did meet but never got to know and stories about people I thought I knew. The tellers are widows, children and grandchildren, brothers, cousins, neighbours and schoolmates. Both the tellers and the long gone person grows as I listen, into much more than just a person, they become what we really are: Gods image, created earth to earth, dust to dust, with a clear hope of eternity and while living; an endless story in many chapters. It is well worth it, freezing in the cold wind, to hear the story long forgotten or never told.
As the dusk is slowly falling, the lanterns on the graves creates beacons of light and hope. On the headstones you can often see the image of the lighthouse or the rising sun of Resurrectionday, but those images get blurred in the darkness.
On the stones dated 1450, 1570, 1720 and so on, there is often an entire familyhistory, with titles and all.
Some graves are very large , some headstones are gigantic and some very small. There I find farmers, fishermen, captains, wardens, ministers, bankers, landowners, carpenters, painters and teachers. Some of them I have heard of, their stories, many I have no clue about.
Sometimes , on some large familygrave, you trace a sad story, small headstones with just one name on it, and perhaps years, 1943 to 1949, april to september, long forgotten tears.
Some rest alone, no trace of husbands or wifes, children or others, some stayed on the farm with the parents, and now they rest side by side. Further away is a heap of pebbles, marking a place where we can light a candle and remember those lost at sea.
And I walk slowly , stopping by headstones with names of people I held the service for. Some families I remember clearly, some I never had so much chance to talk to. I have been here eleven years, many stories have been given me, sometimes in the direct meeting, sometimes afterwards, preparing the service with the families. I should be grateful, I suppose that is why I'm writing this. The darkness that falls over the world today reminds us of what we loose during a lifetime, the people , the childhood, adventures and struggling, holidays and workingdays, neighbours, friends and foes. We keep the stories written in our hearts for as long as we live, sometimes they can be recovered in letters and diaries as I have written in an early post, Tresures of the written word, february this year.. Some people actually becomes chapters in a real book, becoming fiction or actual local history. The farms around here have chapters way back in time, some are abandoned, many are not, there are still lights in the windows.
When we gather like this to remember and mourn, it's a comfort to see the others sitting next to me in the churchbench. Its a comfort to hear the churchchoir, sing the hymns and listen to the word of the gospel. Yes we are flesh and blood, but the promise of eternity speaks of a new creation where we still are those we were meant to be, but death has been defeated and darkness overwhealmed. We light candles both outside and inside to make this message one we can hold on to. We need it both in our own lifes and for the sake of the world that makes us worried. The outcome of tomorrows election holds many in great suspence, fear even. I don't know what to make of it, the fate of the world is not even in the hands of a president. Whatever comes next, darkness will not prevail, and hopefully, that hope will keep us warmhearted and brave. That promise will strenghten us to keep meeting, keep telling our stories and keep sharing life.
What did we make of Halloween??? Nothing ,nothing and nothing. I did carve a pumpkin though, it's here on our doorstep flashing the word "Peace" and then stars on the sides. It scares no one and will hopefully stand upright for a couple of weeks, frost is approaching.
|Peace be with you!!|