As Christians, we are not left to our own devices. We are not condemned to live merely in the present. We are given the gift of the saints, and the resources of tradition. We are not the first ones to walk the path of faith. We have been shown the way by others. To come into church is to take our place in a centuries-long procession. First came Jesus, then those immediate ones who walked with him, followed by our ancestors, and here we are blending in with the forbearers of faith. God has been dealing with us, speaking to us, intruding among us, and leading us for centuries.
When we remember people who have died, simple things remind us of them. Maybe a smell, or a song, or the gathering of family and friends. Sometimes we cry; sometimes we laugh with the memories. We miss them. It helps to give God thanks for having had these loved ones in our life. They will always be a part of our living. They were companions God placed into our life’s journey. And now they surround us, to be like the stars of the Milky Way. All a “cloud” of witnesses who testified to love, faithfulness, hope, and mystery. We give thanks for these special lives and times, and for the ways they helped shape us. We move with confidence, knowing that they left us well and one day we will meet them again.