I came across this quote on Facebook this morning and realized how much differently I am experiencing All Saints Day this year.
Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me. "Be still", they say. "Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands."
I remain grateful for the saints I've always been thankful for -- my grandparents Clarence and Grace, Ruth and Torkel, my aunt Jo, my uncle Len, and so many more. I was adopted into a great family and am grateful to have grown up in the "love of thousands" of Auld and Olsen ancestors.
My life is complete in that love.
Since I received my original birth certificate in August, I now know the names of my birth parents, and my birth grandparents, and back. To Shakespeare, even.
So this year, in our church's All Saints celebration, I lit a candle to my birth parents Ken and Sophia, to birth grandparents Clinton and Jessie, to Katie and John, my saints I'll never meet, but whose genes are the weft and warp in the tapestry that is me.
Last week I flew to Seattle to meet my birth father's family. (There's another post in the works about that trip). It was a really wonderful trip.
And I came home with pictures of my birth father.
On All Saints, I give thanks for this particular saint, my birth father, Clinton Kenneth McCourt, born 1914 and died 1996. I'll never get to know him, but I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity I've had to meet his family, for the stories they shared with me about his life, for the sense of him I was able to get from hearing their stories. The love, affection, and memories they cherish of him helped me fill in a lot of the missing puzzle pieces of my life.
A few months ago, I never thought I would ever know his name. To be where I am on this All Saints morning -- with an expanded family! -- is beyond my wildest dream and I am so thankful.
Blessings to you on this day. May you take some time to reflect on the saints in your life, whether their blood runs in your veins or not.
One of the scripture passages assigned to All Saints this year is this verse from 1st John 3:2.
"Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is."
As much as I've been looking to the past with this birth family discovery, tracing genealogies back to the 1500s, looking at old pictures, I'm struck by the future leaning focus of this verse. We are God's children NOW. And what we WILL BE has not yet been revealed.
In this time of discovery, I am also actively in the "waiting for what will be revealed" time. I feel God is using this new knowledge, these emotions, these new relationships, my new saints, to shape and create me, much as I was knit together in my birth mother Sophia's womb 46 years ago.
All Saints is not just a time to look back, but a time to hope forward. Blessings to you and your saints.
This post originally appeared at Glass Overflowing.