By Maureen Briare, Guest Commentary
November 1st is my grandmother's birthday. It is also All Saints Day. I have a vision of my "Nana" singing in the heavenly chorus of angels and saints. I wonder what the music sounds like in heaven? Maybe it's a beauty beyond description. I think at times our earthly music gives us a glimpse of God's spirit. Maybe the music in heaven that we will hear will be our favorite style? All ABBA all the time?
My Nana passed away 25 years ago, when I was 16 years old. I remember the feel of her soft hugs, the way she had me "check her pockets" when she came from New York to Oregon for her visits – there were always Necco wafers in there for me.
I remember my horror one night when I saw her teeth in a glass when she and I shared a room. I remember the way she sewed, her polyester pantsuits, her apple pie. But mostly I remember her laugh, and her voice. Since we lived on opposite coasts, I would mostly talk to her on the phone while growing up. Her calls from New York would always bring about squeals of delight from all of us kids. I remember being at her wake and funeral. It was the first time I had seen a dead body. She looked so dressed up. She still had her glasses on. She held her rosary. The room was a mixture of laughing and tears as memories were shared. At her funeral, all of us processed down the aisle to "On Eagle's Wings." That is a song that has endured the test of time. I am privileged to be the musician for funerals, and that song by far is one of the most popular requests (along with "Amazing Grace"). So whenever I sing that song….I take a moment before I start to say a quick prayer…for my Nana, and for all the souls that I've provided music for over my life. That each time the song is sung, it is a fresh expression of God's beauty, consolation and peace.
A couple of Sundays ago there was a reading at Mass from the book of Wisdom. It described God as being the "lover of souls." That really struck a chord with me on how I can improve the way I look at life, the world, and my place in it. Having been at so many funerals in my life, I am constantly reminded that life is really not about the worldly accomplishments or success...it boils down to…how well you loved the souls around you.
This entire month of November is called the "Month of Remembrance"…take a moment to think about those in your family who have entered the mystery of heaven. Come to the chapel and write their names on a memory card and place it in the basket. All of the names of the souls in the basket are prayed for every day.
And remember that YOU are a beautiful soul, brimming with hope, talents, zeal and grace. Let that light shine, while giving thanks for the tremendous and incredible gift of life. Love the souls around you…make how you loved the way people remember you. I think that's the path to sainthood, too! Send up prayers to the angels and saints in heaven to bless you on your quest. And one more thing: keep a song in your heart.
Maureen Briare is the Associate Director of Music for Campus Ministry. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org