All Saints’ Day. All Souls’ Day. All Hallows’ Eve. The Day of the Dead. Our various celebrations this week remind us of an overriding truth that is at the core of so many of our religious and cultural traditions — death can’t separate us from love.
Those who love us are with us always. They’re near, dear, and not-so-departed. They remain an intimate and important part of our daily journey to become more loving people and to build a more just society together.
We’re reminded that death isn’t about destruction or separation; it’s a moment of holy transformation that takes us even deeper into life. We trade our heartbeat for a deeper place in the heart of God who is love, a heart that remains active and involved in our world.
Those who die remain part of our lives. Death can’t break our connection to Jesus’ embodied spirit of love – he is with us always.
Over the centuries, the church has recognized and celebrated the communion of saints — we’re still in intimate company with those who have died. Catholic and other traditions encourage communing with saints — seeking their wisdom and guidance and assistance.
Various faiths and cultures throughout human history have drawn us to this truth. Even our pop culture recognizes it in myriad ways. Star Wars and Harry Potter depict family and friends remaining active in our lives, giving us their presence and encouragement. Paul McCartney wrote a song about his departed mother — Mary — coming to him in a dream with words of wisdom.
Many people have other stories of a loved one appearing in a dream or some other form at important times in their lives, bringing comfort or guidance or some other message. It’s universal across generations, religions, and cultures.
There’s something there, even though we can’t wrap our limited brains and our limited experiences around it. We think in three-dimensional ways, but there are other dimensions at work. Faith encourages us to recognize the spiritual dimension which is intimately bound with all.
Creation is all one thing, like a giant blanket. There are many threads on the blanket, all woven tightly together and when someone dies, they move from one thread to an adjacent one. But they’re still wrapped snugly around us, and not just in a metaphorical way.
Their paths and ours continue to overlap. We still travel together.
This can be a great comfort when we ache for their touch and experience the pain of missing a loved one's voice, their laugh, and their reassurance that we are loved and never alone. We can quiet our minds and go deeper inside our hearts and hear them again.
It’s also a reassurance in our daily struggle to bring love and justice more deeply into our world. Our spiritual ancestors who struggled before us — who dedicated their lives to equality for all God’s children — are still part of the struggle with us. Death doesn’t end our involvement in the kingdom of God movement; it merely transforms it. We can take reassurance and courage from knowing that those loving and prophetic people still march with us and work with us.
They still guide us and lead us forward. And when each of us moves on, we will remain part of the struggle, too.
As Paul puts it, there is nothing that can separate us from God’s powerful love, not even death itself. I’d say the same thing about those who love deeply. Nothing can separate us from their love, either.
Certainly nothing as small as death.