On Saints and Orphans

by Dawn W

The day after Halloween is known throughout the Christian world as All Saints’ Day. It’s a day that, among other things, we remember our brothers and sisters who have gone before us into glory. We remember the martyrs, the saints, and this year, we remember my mother.

This Sunday also happens to be Orphan Sunday, when we are reminded that adoption is the Gospel. Christ made a family out of a bunch of sinners, and there are those of us called to follow in his footsteps and make a beautiful family out of pieces. Today, I was an orphan. I know this sounds dramatic, but when you have no living parents, you are an orphan. While I will never know what it is like to grow up in foster care, wondering if I would ever have a home to call my own; I will live the rest of my life motherless and fatherless.

It’s still a weird thing to wrap my head around. Being an orphan, even at 30, comes with an odd feeling of transience. My roots have been ripped out of the ground and tossed aside. I belong nowhere, and no place is my home. Though there are friends and people who love me like family there, Kentucky is no longer home. It has ceased to be the place where my mom lives and is instead the place where my mom rests. I am a child who lived as a nomad for the first ten years of my life and though I have no intention of moving any time soon; I have become a nomad once again.

The transition has been harder at times than others. Some days, I still want to call her and tell her all about whatever stupid thing I did or the ridiculously hot new guy I’ve just met. (She would not have like that last part.) Most days, I think of her in pain and am thankful she is no longer bound by the limits of a fallen world.

Today, as we sang for the saints, I sobbed my way through verses about freedom and rest. I am an orphan and yet I am surrounded by the saints who have gone before me. By Mary, the Mother who had to watch her child suffer. By my Grandmother, who taught all the women in my family how to be tough as nails and soft as silk at the same time. By my mother, who only in her last days made a choice that was better for her than it was for me. I am alone and yet stand in community with believers across time and space.

O blest communion, fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.