All Soul’s Day is a tradition I didn’t have much experience with prior to becoming an Episcopalian. Baptists have a hard enough time dealing with Halloween, much less with a holiday that involved praying for the souls of the dead.
But in the middle of one of the most exciting sporting events in Memphis history, my friend, Margaret and I, went to Saint John’s All Soul’s Day service held in the little cemetery across from the Pink Palace. Not many people are buried behind the weathered black iron gates of that cemetery and it’s often overlooked as people whiz down Central Ave. It’s a quiet, peaceful place where the trees commune with the spirits. We celebrated Eucharist and we read the names of our loved ones who had moved on to that magical holy place where their bodies are healed and they’re close to God. In the quietness of a cool, fall day, my soul felt connected to Bryan and I felt him there along with the souls of the ones buried in that tranquil ground. It’s a strange feeling to be suddenly acutely aware of the spirits of those who have died.
There’s an old Irish legend of thin places, mystical thin lines between Earth and the spiritual heaven. To experience a thin place is to experience God at a deeper level, to get a glimpse of the awesome and magical dimension that is beyond human comprehension. I feel that if I go back to the cemetery today, tomorrow, or even a year from now, I wouldn’t experience it again. It was the combination of the people there, the Eucharist, the prayer, our purpose for being there, and the changing of the seasons that created a teeny glimpse through a divine window to a transcendent place that Bryan now calls home.