"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Since I started this blog seven years ago, I have come to learn more about what it means to throw off things that hinder. I have learned how to fix my eyes more closely on Jesus. And I have learned what it means not to grow weary or lose heart.
I'm sure I will continue to re-learn these things as I carry on to "run the race" marked out for me, for I still do not yet know fully all that that entails. I still do not know exactly what God has "marked out for me" and I'm not sure that we ever fully do. We just follow the part of the "trail" that He maps out for us at a time.
Today the part of this passage that struck me is the line regarding the "Cloud of Witnesses." I believe that I have blogged about this line before, but once again, I don't think I fully understood then what it would come to mean for me now, and I'm sure its meaning will continue to grow as I continue to "run" (slash jog/walk briskly which I've always been pretty clear about ;)
This week has been a powerhouse week for this "Cloud of Witnesses": namely, the Saints and people in heaven who look out for us and intercede for us. The week began with the feast of the Archangels (Sept 29), followed by St Jerome (Sept 30) (which may not be a powerhouse for some people, but for this nerdy Scripture scholar, creator of the Vulgate! Hello!). Then, of course, comes the Feast of The Little Flower, St. Therese, who is a fan favorite (Oct 1), and then the feast of our Guardian Angels (Oct 2). And today (Oct 4), the namesake of our current pope and another fan favorite, St. Francis of Assisi!
My parents were in town visiting from Ohio this week and I have always said (okay, well, probably not when I was a teenager) that my parents are way cooler than me. When I was living in the convent, I would call them and they would be out at bars, and they always have tickets to see my favorite bands (ie Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, The Black Keys, etc.) before me. They are busy every week giving tours of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by day, and rocking out at my dad's late night gigs by night. It was a blessing to have them here this week, but they kept me super busy and wore me out! In their early 60s, they some how have even more energy than me (which I guess isn't that much of a surprise, knowing how geriatric I truly am).
So I was grateful to have the time in between late nights and early mornings this past week, the "Cloud of Witnesses" of these saints and their feasts to celebrate each day at Mass. Culminating, with the Feast of St. Francis today, Saturday, Oct. 4, for which, a Mass for my friend Dan Lyons was celebrated.
It is still hard for me to write about Dan in a way. I guess I still can't believe that he is gone, as generic as that sounds to say. But I have felt Dan's presence a few times since he has past and this Saturday, on my way to the early morning Mass was one of them.
Dan and I had a very playful relationship to say the least. I don't know how it was possible for Dan to be simultaneously the sweetest man but also the sassiest. He got my sarcasm and would give it right back, which is actually something I give bonus points for with my friends and relationships. But then he would give that incredibly sincere smile that humbled me and let me know he was only half being sassy with me just because he knew that was how I functioned and it was almost his way of reaching out and loving me. It makes me crazy to think that he was somehow messing with me and loving me at the same time! He definitely just got "it" a lot quicker than the rest of us do in so many ways.
When his wife told me about the Mass on Sat, I really wanted to be there, but it was early for a Saturday, even for my geriatric-bed-at-10pm self. I found myself simultaneously cursing at Dan and then smiling as I got in my car at 7am, but knowing this is was just his way, even from the next life, telling me that he loved me in the most enraging but perfect way.
We all, at times, struggle in our faith. I myself continue to struggle, even more so as I get older, with what I really believe, which is why I am once again grateful for the foundation I have been given. And I am grateful for moments like these that remind me that we are all connected and that life truly doesn't end. We have our loved ones in the "Great Cloud of Witnesses" to remind us of that. And I am grateful for that reminder.
I hope that you are enjoying fall! I'm gearing up for this to be the best fall ever!
During the fall, we often think about all things All Hallows Eve (Halloween!), but not so much the hallowed days which that eve leads up to...namely the days of All Saints (Nov.1) and All Souls (Nov. 2). I'm going to try and remember our Great Cloud of Witnesses not just on All Saints and All Souls Day but each day this season.
Thanks for reading!