She died on Sunday, after a month of dateless days that began on Halloween and ended just short of Thanksgiving. We went from the hospice admitting office to a Halloween party in the family room, where volunteers offered us fruit punch, orange cupcakes and orange and black balloons. Three toddlers in identical ladybug suits were dancing on the faux-parquet ballroom floor to the electrically amplified folk songs of a long-haired balladeer.
One of these All Saints Days our names will be read. We are the potential saints for future generations. We are the shoulders on which others will stand. Will we be ancestors who sat on their hands or ancestors who raised their hands? Sometimes we forget that we aren’t just living our busy lives. We’re also laying a foundation, molding a future and establishing a legacy. How is it going?
Scholars can be like children in a schoolyard. We push one another around, turn our noses up and have our cliques. On the terrain that I know best, the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, today’s Gettysburg is the struggle between readers who see play and misdirection everywhere in Kierkegaard and those who are inclined to read him as a philosophically and poetically gifted evangelist.
"Pastor, my cousin is in General Hospital. Her name is Theda Manheim. The family doesn't go to church. Won't you visit her?" It was more of a command than a request. Clara Goggins was like that. She was known for her tangle of gray hair, ridiculous hats and sharp tongue. Her heart was pure, though—at least in regard to my visiting her cousin. She explained, "Theda's cancer has spread.
For well over a thousand years November 1, or All Saints Day, has been marked in red on the Christian calendar. The meaning behind the celebration speaks to our time, especially when distinguishing between saints and celebrities, and remembering Karl Barth's word about reading the Bible with the daily newspaper in hand. The latter tells of celebrities, the former offers saints.