Wednesday, November 01, 2006
The Seventh Sense
In the movie "The Sixth Sense" Bruce Willis plays a child psychologist whose young patient sees dead people. There is a bizarre plot twist at the end which I must give away in order to write this post . Fair warning to those who haven't yet seen this excellent movie. At the end of the movie Bruce Willis in essence discovers that he himself is the dead person and all the others around him are alive.
How like us. Christians have the Seventh Sense, not just the presence of dead people among us, but the presence of God in those people. Its holy day is celebrated on November 1st, the Feast of All Saints.
The dead we always have with us in our memories. And we know that that they have passed over to true Life. They are living the Reality, the Divine Truth, of which this present life is simply the shadowy reflection. They are always with God. Sometimes they are with us also.
Anyone who has lost a loved one knows what I am talking about. My mother died in September 1987. The last time I saw her alive with the seeing of the eyes on Friday, September 4, 1987. She was standing in her housecoat on the porch in the early morning light. She was waving to me as my father pulled out of the driveway to take me to the airport to travel home to Minnesota. The next Tuesday she had a massive heart attack and died in an arm chair in our living room.
In the Fall of 1988 I was assisting with the distribution of communion for the first time at the altar of my internship parish, First Lutheran Church, Longview Texas. During communion for the first time since her death I had the distinct sense that my mother was there with me. The sensation passed, and the service ended. Then, a family friend, my 4th grade Sunday School teacher, came up after church and said with tears in her eyes "Elizabeth was with us today. did you feel it?"
There are even larger "shiver moments" in this holy day. In a sense the curtain is drawn back today and we see a larger Reality, ourselves surrounded by the heavenly host of those who have gone before us to God.
It's an overwhelming feeling. At least for today, this reality ought to feel just as real or perhaps more real than the KFC meals, Excel spreadsheets, and the crunching autumn leaves stirred in the crisp morning air which frame my day.
From the Scripture Reading for Evening Prayer I, Solemnity of All Saints:
You have drawn near to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jeruslaem, to myriads of angels in festal gathering, to the assembly of the first-born enrolled in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
We Catholic Christians have this Seventh Sense, with sense enough at least on occasion to perceive an unseen Reality, the God who is truly Real. As St Augustine put it, "we must fly to our beloved homeland. There the Father is, and there is everything." I am sure that is what William of St Thierry was praying about when he wrote the Countryman's Prayer in the right sidebar.
Today, make this prayer mine, Lord. give me the Seventh Sense. Bring me Home.