One of the books I picked up recently is a little book by Esther De Waal called The Celtic Way Of Prayer. She speaks of our pilgrimage as we travel through life and of our connectedness to the world we live in and see as well as the mysterious unseen world around us. At the end of her introduction she states:
“…I am reminded that I travel in company with those who have made this peregrinatio (pilgrimage) before me, by the whole company of heaven, the saints and the angels, a ‘cloud of witnesses’, who surround me and who hold me up as I go.”
This reminds me of my own experience when my mother died. We were in the Congo and had just arrived at the place we were to work about five days earlier. Our passports had been sent down to the capital to have permanent residence visas a couple of days before. When we got the radio message we were not able to travel – no documents. The news was so totally unexpected as was her sudden death. Within the shock of the news came the sense of her presence with me. Not a ghostly presence but as one now forever alive. I knew that although she was no longer living and able to give me the motherly advice I would have liked from her I had the closeness of her spirit still living and caring for me.
It became a little more clear to me why Catholics would pray to the saints – or rather to God via the saints. We protestants of the evangelical genre tend to avoid discussing these things – they are somehow looked on as irrational and not theologically sound. But we are told that we are surrounded by the saints who have gone before us. They do uphold us on the way – by example to be sure, but also in some mysterious way that is beyond our comprehension. Maybe it is somehow that their world is closely linked with ours since we too live with one foot in eternity when we acknowledge God in our lives.
Somehow, I have grown up with a sense of the supernatural being a real part of my life. It has helped me accept what I cannot understand. It gives me a sense of awe as I look at the wonders of the God’s world around me from the most intricate details of a cell to the majesty of the mountains. It gives me hope for my future as I travel homeward, not alone but with all those who have gone before as well as those living in this time with me travelling the same path.