If we consider ourselves to be part of a continuum of life that does not end with death, but transitions to a life after life, our perspectives can change.
The communion of saints has enriched my theological imagination, particularly when it comes to my ancestors and las madres of the faith, the women throughout history who have gone before us paving the way, building their own tables, and offering a perspective of the divine.
When Christians made a late addition to the ancient Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the communion of saints,” I think they were offering us the idea that the dead are at one with the living, whether they’re our direct ancestors, the saints in glory, or even the so-called souls in purgatory.
We live in a world saturated with the love and intentionality of an ever-present God, and we are not alone.
I have no doubt that ancestors not only exist, but they are present for us. They come to us in moments of great need and trial, and they also celebrate life’s moments with us.
—Walter Earl Fluker
The land itself and the conditions of that land, like altitude and climate, impact our genome just as our human ancestors do. We are born on it, die on it; we come from it and return to it. The land and the waters, oceans and rivers, are part of us, relatives and ancestors in a very real way.
Resting in Love
Father Richard offers a practice of deepening love and healing:
How do we come to know love so that we can live from its depths? Love cannot be understood by the mind. And if God is love, God will never be subject to the mind as we know it. God and love can only be experienced. This simple practice is an invitation to encounter love in its very physical, connective reality.
Place the palm of one of your hands on your heart. Feel your heart beating, letting its rhythm bring you into the present moment and into the awareness of God’s blessing on your life, beat after beat after beat.
Bring to your conscious mind a loved one, an ancestor, a favorite place or animal, or anything that makes you smile with undeniable, spontaneous, unconditional love and joy.
Bring that particular beloved being or thing down from your mind and place it right under your palm, in your heart space. Relax your mind and let your heart relax at the same time, feeling the sensation of blood vessels, muscles, and chest cavity opening in warmth and love for that particular loved thing. Smile.
Now humbly place a challenging person, issue, or problem directly under your palm, within your wide-open heart space. This could be someone or something currently challenging you or an old hurt from a person gone from the living world. Silently continue to smile and hold this challenging thing in the warmth of your heart.
With closed eyes, look at the thing that causes you pain, visualizing the detail that bothers you the most, all the while smiling. Consider that there may be reasons why this thing brings hurt. Smile at the fragility, suffering, or misunderstanding that makes it this way.
Finally, give the person or problem to your heart and ask that your heart’s wisdom and love take over. Rest in the Love that loves both you and the other and wants to transform all into its loving image.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016), 324–325.
Explore Further. . .
- Read a week of meditations on the communion of saints.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Jeremy Bezanger, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut (detail), Egypt, photograph, Unsplash. Jon Tyson, Untitled (detail), 2018, photograph, Unsplash. Rasam, Takht-e-Jamshid (Persepolis) (detail), 2020, Iran, photograph, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
Image inspiration: Human ancestors leave legacies in physical and cultural bones, while stones carry meaning and memory. How will you listen to the wisdom of your ancestors?
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.