Thursday, November 01, 2007

All Saints Day

Here in Southeastern New Brunswick we are reminded regularly of the saints in everyday life. So many of our towns, St. Stephen included are named after them. The hip way to refer to a destination around here is to shorten it to it's nickname - "I'm going to The Fred" (for Fredericton) while we live in "The Steve". Unfortunately Saint John looses much of it's charm with it's shortened name.

I love the saints now as I have spent much time with Francis, Ignatius, Catherine of Sienna, Mother Teresa, Teresa of Avila and Thérèse de Lisieux through their writings and stories. They are precious friends to me.

Growing up Plymouth Brethren we were indoctrinated into understanding that WE ARE ALL SAINTS and there is nothing special or important about those through history who were bestowed the title Saint. I would beg to differ (who me?) that there just aren't enough titles given out for those who have made their lasting, gentle impact on the church and our lives.

My good friend, Matthew Glock has blogged today about the saints in his life who have gone before that might not have been given a title by the church, but have made a deep impact on his life. One of his list has brought back such fond memories for me as we shared classes together at Emmaus Bible College during the last years of this professors life. John W. Harper was a man among men and taught me much of the saints.
Mr. Harper was the first person who introduced me to my soul. Up until that point it had all been about my head. Reason and logic where going to save me, knowledge was my idol and Mr. Harper cracked that door to story, poetry, art and beauty.

My favorite times were the private lessons he taught me. The college had relocated from Oak Park, Illinois to Dubuque, Iowa and took over the Thomas Aquinas Catholic Seminary. All of the crucifixes were stripped of the dying Christ, but the crosses, altars and the stained glass windows were made of far to precious stuff to remove. The marble chapel was the most spacious indoor place of worship I was ever graced with and I spent much time in there surrounded by these vast saints, in all their glory, depicted in 20 foot stained glass down the sides of this glorious room. There must have been 20 of them in total. I am so sad that I never did get pictures of them.

Mr. Harper would find me in there enjoying the quiet and give me lessons on all the saints. He'd explain why that guy had an ax in his head and this one had a sword. He knew so much and was such a rich, gentle soul. I loved him dearly. I was yearbook editor the year he passed and I dedicated it to him. This was the page. I give you St. John of the Marble Chapel. Thank you sir for helping me find my soul.


Hope said...

What a beautiful piece my friend. Introduced to your soul. A beautiful phrase and just think, I get to benefit from your wisdom now because of his long ago. What a gift.

St. John of the Marble Chapel pray for us.

Heidi Renee said...

Amen Hope.

As I was typing this I remembered that my friend Paul is going out to the college this weekend and I emailed him and asked if he'd take pictures of the stained glass while he was there. I hope he'll agree to do it for me - I'd love to see them again.

Matt said...

Lots to remember lots to be thankful for.