“Encouraging Words for Today” – October 20, 2011


By Lucinda Secrest McDowell 

So, I guess I’ve been teary all month. Missing people who have gone Home. In October, every time I see creepy/crass Halloween stuff, I tend to re-focus on All Saints Day instead (November 1)… Which makes me think of those who kept the faith and are now interceding for us with God.

Yes, I know many of my tears are delayed grief at the loss of Daddy this summer, but there are other significant anniversary reminders too. Perhaps the most significant in my own life is that 30 years ago this week Inka — the birth mother of my first three children — died of liver cancer. A godly woman I never knew, but can’t wait to meet in Heaven. We are forever tied together — for indeed, we love all the same people!

And I also just received a “Save the Date” card for the spring wedding of my lifelong best friend’s daughter. It has now been 13 years since I helped her, as a middle schooler, get dressed for her mother’s funeral. While amazingly proud of Lauren’s life path, I’m so very sad that Cax made a choice which results in her not being Mother of the Bride…. Speaking of which, this week is also the 3 year anniversary of the sudden death of my future son-in-law’s father. When Stephen and his mama visited us last weekend from Texas, we watched a video of Tom’s life (shown at his funeral) and I weep even now to know that Maggie will never have this man for a father-in-law while all those left behind still miss him so…

This is also the season that Mike’s good friend Ed Curtis died suddenly from a heart attack. When I took his wife, Faith, home from the hospital (carrying a manila envelope with his ‘personal effects’ – such a sobering reminder of what’s left) I’ll never forget pushing the ‘play’ button on her voice mail and hearing Ed’s call earlier in the day: “Hey hon, just wanted to call and tell you I’m praying you have a great day. See ya soon…”  Sorta makes you want to phone someone right now, doesn’t it?

Grief for those who have died this year is inevitable whether you are mourning for Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Taylor or John Stott. Or Pratt Secrest…

“Do not hurry as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey. Walk slowly, pausing often: do not hurry as you walk with grief. Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden. Swiftly forgive; and let Christ speak for you unspoken words. Unfinished conversations will be resolved in Him. Be not disturbed. Be gentle with the one who walks with grief. If it is you, be gentle with yourself. Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often. Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief…” (Northumbria Community)

I know that death is an inevitable part of life. I’m one of those people who get frustrated with those who constantly say “if I die..” and I have to bite my tongue not to correct them with “It’s when I die, we’re all gonna die!” That’s reality. And the reality is also that the older we get, the more loved ones we have on the other side…

That’s why I love celebrating All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Soul’s Day (Nov. 2) because even though some think only the canonized are ‘saints’, the Bible recognizes all Christians as ‘saints.’ We remember the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in the faith, stretching across the centuries and around the globe. “However hard it might seem to follow the way of Jesus in our own time and place, this is a day to remember that we may be crazy, but we are not alone.” (Common Prayer for Nov. 1st)

So…. if you, like me, find yourself teary occasionally as you trudge this journey of faith and fortitude, seeking to persevere amidst all that says give up, then remember those words, “we may be crazy, but we are not alone!”  Maybe, just maybe, if we’re quiet enough, we can hear the angels singing…over us…and for us…

“Almighty God, with Whom still live the spirits of those who die in the Lord, and with Whom the souls of the faithful are in joy and felicity: I give You heartfelt thanks for the good examples of all Your servants, who, having finished their course in faith, now find rest and refreshment. May I, with all who have died in the true faith of Your Holy Name, have perfect fulfillment and bliss in Your eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.” (Divine Hours)

Let saints on earth in concert sing

With those whose work is done;

For all the servants of our King

In heaven and earth are one. (Charles Wesley)

under the mercy, Cindy

©2011 Lucinda Secrest McDowell




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2 Responses to WHO ARE ‘ALL SAINTS’?

  1. maggierowe says:

    I appreciated the transparency of your post, Cindy, and also your sharing the photo of Inka with Justin, Tim, and Fiona. I so much think of them as your children that the photo was a reminder of their other mama too. It sounds like it’s been an emotional few weeks for you – a lot of loss – and reminders of profound loss – to process. When we lose those we love we lose a piece of ourselves as well. How thankful I am that none of us are mortal but that we will live forever one day with our God and those who have gone before.

  2. Chris trautman says:

    Remembering Inka…her valiant fight to stay here on earth, her love for her family, her love for Jesus,all of us loving her and the family as they walked that painful yet rich path of their journey…forever grateful for Mike and all of the extended family being willing to share the journey with me,Jeff and our family…the communal experience infuenced and changed my life perspective of dying..the awareness of how much it means to be invited into one of the most intimate profound times of life..to be given the privilege of walking alongside a friend and their loved ones in preparation for eternal life.There is a bond between all of the McDowell family and us, especially including you, Cindy that will always be there..”what a day of rejoicing that will be..when we all see Jesus!”
    Remembering my beloved father, Charles Duane Valentine,who died on October 31,2009. I miss my dad very much. It was difficult to have him die on 10/31..I prefer to remember him today an think of him being with all the other saints in heaven and meeting and greeting your dad,Cindy and worshiping with John Stott and giving Inka a big hug and hanging with Hal Mischke…so much love,healing and wholeness all in one place…almost more than I can comprehend. Heaven used to seem so far away and frightening because of the unknown but as I know more and more saints who have gone to heaven..it’s becoming a place that I can imagine going to someday..and I am grateful for the peace that comes from that awareness.
    Thank you,Cindy and much love to you,Mike and all your family for sharing your lives with us and helping us to remember today.

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