I’m not actually a procrastinator.
Even still, I generally find that my Friday e-blast reflections are rarely completed until… well, later than I would like. Although the deadline for each reflection is always clearly marked on my calendar, the actual writing, polishing, and submitting of the reflection always manages to lollygag around, waiting until the 11th hour to appear.
This week’s writing process was not substantially different. However, this week’s delay had less to do with busy-ness or forgetfulness than with a lack of ideas.
Because this week’s e-blast will hit readers’ inboxes on the Solemnity of All Saints, I felt that I would be remiss in my reflection-writing duties if I didn’t write about All Saints’ Day or at least about saints. But I ran into a problem with this plan. Namely, whenever I tried to think of something relevant to say about All Saints’ Day, I found that every single thought in my head had been inconveniently replaced by the song “For All the Saints.” For a brief moment, the endless loop of “For All the Saints” was replaced by snippets of John Becker’s “Litany of the Saints.” But this was a brief interlude. At the end of the day, the classic All Saints’ Day hymn emerged victorious from the fray of thoughts struggling to win the “pick me for your reflection!!!” contest.
As the clock ticked down and I started getting panicky about the idea of submitting a big blank piece of paper in lieu of my reflection this week, I was struck by a thought about All Saints’ Day that was even less helpful than “For All the Saints” on perpetual replay.
That thought went something like this: “I don’t have anything to say about All Saints’ Day that hasn’t already been said by an author who is more knowledgeable and better qualified to write about saints or All Saints’ Day than I am.”
Great. Thanks, brain. How considerate and helpful of you to generate exactly this thought at exactly this point in the reflection-writing process.
But I had barely finished berating my brain for offering such unhelpful thoughts when I realized that the thought wasn’t unhelpful at all. It was actually a pretty good thought.
The more I pondered it, the more I realized that this seemingly unhelpful thought was actually a REALLY good thought.
A profound insight about saints and All Saints’ Day lies slumbering not too far beneath the surface of the fact that I have nothing new or particularly interesting to add to the conversation on saints or All Saints’ Day.
That profound insight goes something like this: how many of us are a little intimidated by the very saintliness of the saints? How many of us worry that we could never be “good” enough, “knowledgeable” enough, “qualified” enough to be a saint? How many of us have simply given up on striving for sainthood because fears of this sort hold us back from leading lives of witness to the Gospel?
Several sheepish and tentative hands (my own included) have no doubt been raised in answer to these questions. These sheepish and tentative hands are no doubt accompanied by nodding heads and mumbled words about failure, fear, and being overwhelmed by the effort of living up to the model set by the saints.
This reflection is for all of you (us): it’s for all of the striving-to-be saints out there who fear failure or insignificance in (y)our efforts to model Christ’s love and light. Let’s take comfort and joy in one another’s presence, remembering that we refer to the Communion of Saints for a reason: in our communion / community with one another and with the saints, we strengthen one another for the work of service and love. Let’s take comfort and joy in remembering that the saints, too, knew fear and weakness and failure. Let’s take comfort and joy in knowing that humility, reverence, and simple acts of love are powerful models of Christ’s love and light in the here-ness and now-ness of our lives.
On this feast day for All the Saints, let us take comfort and joy in our thoughts not of the ways in which we have failed to be Saints, but of the ways in which we have brought love and light to even just one person most in need of love and light.
A very blessed and happy feast day to all the Saints and all the striving-to-be-Saints!