Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 1, 2010
[ All Saints Day in the Christian Kalendar ]
"Half of tradition is a lie."
Stephen Crane, author [“The
Red Badge of Courage”]; he was
born on this date 1871; died at
What a day for “art”! On this date in 1512, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling was first exhibited to the public. And in 1604, William Shakespeare’s “Othello” was first performed at Whitehall Palace in London. Sholem Asch, Polish-born American writer was born, in 1880. Sakutaro Hagiwara, the Japanese poet, was born in 1886. And the Norwegian lyric poet Nordahl Brun Grieg was born in 1902.
But: the greatest expression of “art” I remember today are the beautiful, creative lives of all my dear friends who died of AIDS,. I have been reminiscing on this All Saints Day over the 64 of them who are on my heart, whom I think of every November 1st – certainly in my book “numbered among the saints”, not because they were perfect human beings, but because I deeply lament the social, governmental, family, and religious support they weren’t offered primarily because they ( most, but not all) were Gay. They died martyrs to fear and ignorance and indifference. God still weeps. As do I.
I would say that more than “half of tradition is a lie”. Oh, true godly tradition can be a blessing – those teachings and learnings and rituals and stories of divine and human compassion enacted year by year, sacred witness to the great power of Love and Truth. But so often “tradition” becomes an instrument of fear, of the refusal to listen to the Spirit of Truth, leading to the sacrifice of beautiful human beings on an altar that more belongs to Baal and his ilk than to the God Who is Compassion and Enlightenment.
By tradition, on All Saints Day, we remember and honour all those who spoke of divine compassion and of human poignant loveliness. I see them all today, their faces rising before my inner eye. In my Communion with them, I was and continue to be blessed. “O blessed Communion, fellowship divine”.
They, and those who loved and cared for them, deepened my humanity.