All Souls Day
While I know the attention of most of the nation is on Election Eve, a reminder today is All Souls Day, when we reflect, remember, and pray for those who have made the transition from this life to the next.
Today I spent some time in our chapel, thinking and praying about those close to me and my family whom have died. Of course the death of Jennifer’s mother, Jacquie Forrester, in July, is fresh on my mind and heart. I had the enormous privilege of officiating and preaching her funeral. 91 years old, suffering from Alzheimer’s and then a broken hip, her last days were not what anyone would have wanted. Basically she was alone in a long term care facility with COVID restrictions. The terrible impact of this pandemic is far more reaching than just those who have suffered from the disease itself. I am grateful several of us were able to spend time with her at the end, but forever disappointed in the circumstances. Jacquie was a hero of mine, someone I loved dearly and who will impact the life of many for a long time to come.
Jacquie died almost 4 years to the day we lost my father. They are buried in the same cemetery in Hattiesburg, sacred ground for the Knight and Forrester families of course. As my grandchildren grow I really miss them knowing my dad, his humor and advice stay with me always.
I also thought of my dear Aunt Sharlie, who died in 2006. She was my mom’s younger sister and the closest thing to a female sibling myself and my brothers had. She was so funny and so dedicated to helping others. She visited us often at seminary in Chicago, and my kids, along with all her nieces and nephews, adored her. Today I could hear her wonderful laugh echoing in the chapel.
We also lost this summer my Daughter Mackenzie’s father-in-law, David Taylor Sr. He died very unexpectedly just after Jennifer’s mother died. His loss is heavy and real, an unassuming man who gave and gave and gave. Multi talented, funny, and we shared grandpa duties for Juby and Mills who adored him. Big O they called him. His loss will be felt forever but his legacy continues in his two sons and their families.
Sitting in a church chapel led me to think of a tradition in the Diocese of Mississippi we had at Clergy Conference every fall – the Dead Priests Society. Without going into too many details (they are fun and moving), what I miss the most about it is what we would do on the last evening of Clergy Conference each year. We would gather together around a make shift grave and pass a candle around the circle. As we held the candle each of us would take the opportunity to name a priest who had died and who was important to us and our vocations. It would be passed several times around the circle as we offered these blessed names. This year I would have loved the chance to say The Rev. Arnold Bush’s name. Arnold died this past January. He was my first Episcopal Priest, a man of amazing energy, intelligence, passion, and grace. I think of Arnold often and the influence he has been on my life. Arnold Bush, I raise a candle to you my dear friend and mentor.
These are the things that are lasting and important. Don’t forget them in the noise of the next few days. God is ever with us, life is short, and we need to spend our time loving and learning and serving God and each other. To Dad, to Jacquie, to Sharlie, to Arnold – bless you and thank you. May you Rest In Peace and rise in glory.