When I posted this on social media in blocked-out form, a friend likened it to an ariel view of river and farmland. That set me thinking about what it represented for me. I completed it on All Hallow’s Eve – any significance there? Never very clear about Halloween and all that, and vaguely perturbed by the dark sinister side that we increasingly delve into now, I did some research.

Halloween, originally All Hallows’ Eve (or All Saints’ Eve) marks the beginning of a three day period of Christian reflection continuing into All Saints’ Day followed by All Souls’ Day. It is a time for remembering that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ (Heb 12:1) the saints who have gone before us and the ‘dear departed’.

We had a superb homily yesterday at mass that offered further clarification. Together with a notice about the new lockdown ban on church services for 28 days, we were told there was no need to despair. We were to think of the multitude of saints that have gone before – from Augustine, Benedict, Ignatius of Loyola to more recent ones like Mother Theresa etc. I thought of Saint Tabitha ,whose name I adopted at confirmation, and who ‘made things’ for people. These were the shining ones who realised that life on earth was about turning away from the darkness and looking towards the light. 

This was hugely helpful to me. I have been getting so fed up with lockdown. With an introvert’s glass half empty default position my focus had been on the darker side. I needed to return to Ignatian style ‘consolation’ mode (face turned to the light) rather than ‘desolation’ (back turned to the light). There is nothing in between.

This shawl reminds me of the lives of the saints who left self-interest behind and turned faces towards the light of God’s kingdom. The slate grey, background colour represents our fallen world where we all mess up. Against this dark background there are flashes of bright colours all over – some gaudy, in your face – others much more subtle, almost hidden. These represent the ‘communion of saints’ who have gone before us and are cheering us on. No need to despair! What a wonderful message for our times.

Seasonal reflection: Seeing your life through the gospel lens –

The Beatitudes: Matthew 5:1-12

The blessings of the Beatitudes are mostly future blessings, but we can anticipate them in the present. At first, some seem to describe circumstances you wish to avoid. Read them slowly. Stay with each for a while. Allow yourself to feel the sense of paradox contained in each. 

Perhaps you have had an experience of a deeper, more authentic life, a blessing, when:

  • you were poor – you knew your need of God
  • you mourned – could feel for others
  • you were meek – neither spineless nor emotionally out of control 
  • you hungered and thirsted for some cause
  • you were merciful rather than vengeful
  • you were pure in heart – a person of integrity, whose actions & intentions corresponded
  • you were a peacemaker
  • you were persecuted when you stood up for something.

NB:  Adapted from the weekly service sheet of the Parish of St John Henry Newman, Leeds.