the time when we remember in Liturgy those who have left this life, and among the greatest gifts of Orthodoxy was the return of people I loved who’ve traveled ahead. No longer were they gone until “some day”. No longer did they become strangers to me simply because they had gone to be with Christ. Those precious people who had walked with me in life also, in a special and unique way, continued to be my companions.
It’s as simple, really, as Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus at the Transfiguration and speaking about what was to come. It was apparent as the rich man, who even in his lonely and doomed state, had the capacity to care for his still living brothers. It came to mind when God was called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the living. It was in the prayer of the martyrs around the throne, alive, awake, aware, and asking God for justice in the world that violently expelled them.
Somewhere, just beyond my vision, are those who have fallen asleep in the Lord, alive, conscious, and mystically able to remember those who are still running the race. They are the great cloud of witnesses and how could they be witnesses if they could not somehow, by the grace of God, see, understand, and remember us? No, they are not mediators, there is only one, Christ. Yet they are friends and even death cannot stop them from being my brothers and sisters in Jesus. Even death cannot keep them from praying for me and me praying for them.
Where is the sting of death, ultimately, when those who rest in Christ are so near? Where is loneliness when even those who have left us for a little while still remember as we remember? Those who loved me love me still. Those who have passed away remain my family. Those who live in the nearer presence of Christ have not forgotten me, or you, or the world. Until, and after, the day I join them I will have this gift, this comfort, a never ending Saturday of Souls.