"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us"
Hebrews 12 verse 1
In the Christian tradition our companions on this journey are not just those who we can see! At every Eucharist the Priest prays a reminder that we gathered in worship 'with Angels, Archangels, and the whole company of Heaven' - reminding us that there is more beyond our sight than we can ever imagine, and that we are joined beyond this time and space with those who have preceded us in faith and even with those yet to come.
Many of these Christian siblings of ours have left us, and continue to give us, words of encouragement, wisdom, and challenge in the prayers, letters, books, sermons, conversations which have been shared with us over our own journey - these are companions who continue to walk with us.
I find myself continually inspired by the stories of the saints of the ages, both those 'well-known' saints which the church has given that honorific title of "Saint" to, such as St Ambrose and St Nicholas (both of whose feast days we celebrated in the past week) and those who through their writing, music, poetry, art still give me sustenace, and companionship, on this journey of faith. Writers, artists, poets, leaders, and musicians such as Rachel Held Evans, Marcus Borg, Raphael, RS Thomas, Martin Luther King Jr, JS Bach, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and many more continue to walk alongside me in faith, and cause me to think, question, learn, wonder, and pray.
I celebrate the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds each of us, and am grateful for those who make up 'The Communion of Saints" living and departed.
The Transfiguration (1520) by Raphael, unfinished at his death; Raphael, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons