Written by: Rachael Keefe

A Poem for All Saints

Spiritual DNA Remembering those who have gone before me in faith honoring those who have died makes a complexity of sorrow and dreams If I could trace my spiritual lineage …

A Poem for All Saints

Online home of the Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe.

Spiritual DNA

 Remembering those who have gone before me in faith
 honoring those who have died
 makes a complexity of sorrow and dreams
 If I could trace my spiritual lineage 
 who would my ancestors be?
 I know the Irish Catholics would claim more than one Pope,
             Several priests, and countless nuns, 
             and maybe a few saints
the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists 
             would name a few clergy
             those women who sat in the back pews in days gone by
             and maybe Calvin, Wesley, and Zwingli…
 no doubt there would be grandmothers and uncles
             grandfathers and cousins, aunties and neighbors
 I would add ministers and professors, bankers and builders,
 ones in their right mind and ones not quite so
 Yet I want to go further back
             war protestors and those who fought for freedoms
             gay rights activists and equal marriage advocators
             Civil Rights Marchers and women’s vote attainers
             those who opposed Hilter and the Holocaust survivors
             welcomers of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers
             abolitionists and ones whose dreams led them beyond the   
                         innovators and dissenters
                         entrepreneurs and inventors
                         world-changers, peace-makers, justice- 
 And let’s not forget the risk-takers and pioneers
 ones who did their own thing, in spite of fear and rejection
 I also know that my spiritual DNA holds other truths
             those who conquered rather than coexisted
             those who claimed superiority and denied equality
             those who murdered, destroyed, decimated in the name of  
 These are the ones I’d rather not claim
 yet I will not ignore or silence the ugliness of the past
The great cloud of witnesses reaching into my life
insist on truth telling, unmasking false histories 
of death and denial
 Other voices cry out to me, reminding me that none journey alone
             those who lived through plague and pandemic
             sickness and drought
             recession, depression, recklessness, and worse
             to make it to rebuilding
 Those who survived the only choices available
             prostitution, institutions, addictions, 
                adultery, and abuse
             ones who almost lost themselves in the void 
                         of anger, grief, loss, shame, 
                         discrimination, dismissal, devastation
             and ones who extended a compassionate hand 
                         to save the lives of the desperate, 
                             despairing ones
 I give thanks for all the Jobs, Marys, Peters, Pauls, 
    Mirams, Deborahs, Eves 
 and the nameless ones – 
             the women at the wells, the sick and broken ones, 
             the forgotten and overlooked ones, 
             the healers and the healed 
             and the ones who turned away in tears
 All of these and many more reached through the ages
 one life at a time
 living their faith loud enough
 to shape me
             my faith
             my life
 I remember
 I give thanks
 asking that my faith remains visible
             through pandemic, politics
             illness and grief
             from the highest mountains to the lowest valleys
 that I might join the great cloud one day
 having contributed to someone’s spiritual DNA

RCL: Year A All Saints’ Day October 31, 2020 Revelation 7:9-17 and Psalm 34:1-10, 22  • 1 John 3:1-3  • Matthew 5:1-12

Photo: CC0image by Melissa

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About Rachael Keefe

Rachael is an author, a pastor, a teacher, and a poet. Her latest book (The Lifesaving Church - Chalice Press) is on faith and suicide prevention. She is currently the pastor of Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and has launched a spiritual direction practice.

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