Beloved in Christ,
There is a small, glass skull that sits on the desk of my home office. I keep it there for several reasons. It is a blunt reminder that I am mortal, and that life is short. Seeing that skull first thing in the morning, or late in the evening, is a healthy reminder that I don't have a lot of control over when I will die. All I can do is make the very most of whatever time I am given. It's amazing how regularly recalling that fact can put things in proper and liberating perspective.
It also reminds me that the dead are always with me. I am not a freestanding, autonomous creature. I didn't arrive on the planet as a blank canvas. Like every human being, I am who and what I am as a result of a complex web of relationships that span generations of history. My ancestors, both known and unknown, have profoundly shaped the contours and context of my life. We are all formed within a vast field of interconnection, and that field extends far beyond what we can see, know, or understand.
And, most importantly, it reminds me that in Jesus, God has overcome the power of death. Even though it so painfully remains with us, God's victory of life and love is already and irreversibly secured. Recalling that every day gives me courage to fully live in the present, despite all there is to fear, and all the reasons there are for despair.
The two-day feast of All Saints and All Souls Days are designed to help us live more fully into all of this. My own Mexican heritage's particular way of observing El Día De Los Muertos has taught me that death is a mystery to be contemplated and entered into, rather than something to be denied or washed over. Like Holy Week and Easter, All Saints and All Souls, when fully embraced and observed, remind us of the life-changing, world-saving truths at the center of our faith. We celebrate those heroes whose lives have reflected Jesus' love, the Creator's justice, and the Spirit's joy with particular brightness. We remember all the departed who have shaped us into who we are. We recall that all of our actions will shape those who come after us in profound and mysterious ways. And we remember that despite all that is hard and broken, despite every pain of grief we so deeply feel, in Jesus, even at the grave we make our defiant, joyful song: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
Grace and peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya