Breathing air of all the saints. Belonging.
These words, spoken by a friend, continue to ring in my ears in the days that follow All Saints Day.
Belonging – the feeling this word can stir brings comfort to some and isolation to others. Be it family, school, city, faith community, nation, race… most people have a sense of where they belong or where they do not belong.
The definition of belonging has proved its power time and again throughout the course of history. It has planted the flags of countries who have fought for borders and stoked the fire of anger among races and creeds. It has created communities brave enough to swim against the stream of oppression, giving people meaning and purpose to their lives and opened doors to welcome the weary of body and soul.
Belonging is a two-sided word. On one side, its definition has created centuries of war and conflict as defiance; on the other side, its definition has opened the arms and hearts of people throughout the ages welcoming the needy and exiled as compassion.
Yet on a day such as All Saints, belonging, rises above these human struggles and passions. For a moment, “all-that-is” takes a deep breath of gratitude. Our memories are flooded with those beloved who have gone before us — and, for a moment we feel their imprint in the world and in our lives.
It is a good thing we are gifted with a day that slows us enough that our senses can move beyond the distractions of everyday living. A day when we can join in communion with all the saints – celebrating what “was and is and is to come”.