Today is All Saints. This feast in particular makes me think of all the nameless blessed ones who lived and died in faithful obscurity, whose causes were never taken up by those who knew them. It puts me in mind of this passage from Lewis's The Great Divorce:
'All down one long aisle of the forest the undersides of the leafy branches had begun to tremble with dancing light: and on Earth I knew nothing so likely to produce this appearance as the reflected lights cast upward by moving water. A few moments later I realised my mistake. Some kind of procession was approaching us, and the light came from the persons who composed it.
First came bright Spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers- soundlessly falling, lightly drifting flowers, though by the standards of the ghost-world each petal would have weighed a hundred-weight and their fall would have been like the crashing of boulders. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue, came youthful shapes, boys upon one hand and girls upon the other. If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians, and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done.
I cannot now remember whether she was naked or clothed. If she were naked, then it must have been the almost invisible penumbra of her courtesy and joy which produces in my memory the illusion of a great and shining train that followed her across the happy grass. If she were clothed, then the illusion of nakedness is doubtless due to the clarity with which her innermost spirit shone through the clothes. For clothes in that country are not a disguise: the spiritual body lives along each thread and turns them into living organs. A robe or a crown is there as much one of the wearer's features as a lip or an eye.
But I have forgotten. And only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.
"Is it?...Is it?" I whispered to my guide.
"Not at all," said he. "It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name on Earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green."
"She seems to be...well, a person of particular importance?"
"Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two different things."
"And who are these gigantic people...look! They're like emeralds...who are dancing and throwing flowers before her?"
"Haven't ye read your Milton? A thousand liveried angels lackey her."...
I looked at my Teacher in amazement.
"Yes," he said. "It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life."'
JUST TOO COOL – Cops, ashes, and podcasts - This is just too cool. I have a friend at the 19th Precinct in Manhattan, which covers quite a large stretch of the East Side. On Ash Wednesday one of the ...
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