So Great a Cloud: Saints, Pilgrims and Spies

I keep a book of days. A perpetual calendar full of birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and all the usual markers of life. In this book I also keep note of the lives of others. Men and women who who inspire me and challenge me.

There is a long tradition of this. A calendar of saints is a part of the liturgical calendar in the Eastern, Roman and English traditions of the Church. Each year remembering these people to inspire our choices and call us to pray. We celebrate their lives sometimes with a feast and occasionally with a fast.

My little book of days holds a place for saints in the English tradition following the calendar of the Episcopal church. I sneak in other saints along way as I learn about them and want to make them part of my spiritual ecosystem.

I also include pilgrims. Those folk on the way. Those people earnestly try to move forward. Trying to see God and hear God and to do as God has asked of them. They are travelers seeking the holy.

Finally, there are the spies. The Book of Numbers tells the story of the twelve spies who were commissioned to explore Canaan to see if it was the land promised to Abraham so many generations earlier. All the spies sought out and saw the same things, but 10 were afraid that God could not help them. Just two were confident in God’s help. Only two of the spies were able to live in the Promised Land.

Not every spies makes it to the Promised Land. But they see things I haven’t seen. Even when they don’t go all the way, they show me a way I hadn’t seen, a possibility I hadn’t imagined, a promise I hadn’t heard. It helps me to pay attention to these spies. It keeps me fresh and allows me new perspective

I don’t know how to draw a hard line between saint, pilgrim and spy. I’m not sure it is necessary. I put them in my book and let them work it out each year as we visit. I am glad to see them. They lead me to pray and consider my choices. That is a lot. That is enough.

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