ACW

ACW

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Frederick and Allhallowtide

This blog has two beginnings and here is the first one: I recently discovered a new favourite picture book.  It’s called Frederick, by Leo Lionni, and it’s about a little mouse who seems to dream and laze the summer away while the other mice are busy working, storing up food for the winter.  But when the winter comes, Frederick turns out to be a poet - he has been storing up words, and his descriptions of the colours and warmth of summer restore his family’s hope and keep them warm.



Hold that thought.  Here’s the second beginning.


There’s an ancient three-day celebration in the church that is becoming more special to me every year, and its last day is today, the second of November.  I’m talking, of course, about Allhallowtide, as it is never called today: the triduum that is Hallowe’en, All Hallows (or All Saints) day, and All Souls.  It sits (sometimes controversially) over even more ancient festivals that spanned the cusp of winter.


As a child, I had a friend named Jack (I wonder what happened to him?) whose vicar dad gave great All Saints parties as a Halloween alternative.  I remember that we drank fruit punch and ate angel shaped biscuits.  Now, our church provides a ‘LightCraft’ party with all sorts of fun and games to celebrate that Jesus is the light of the world and that he has already overcome the darkness.


November 1st was always a time to enjoy remembering saints, both biblical and extra-biblical, and their often bizarre hagiographies.  And to learn the word ‘hagiography’, one of a selection which I’m sure makes me instantly less cool when I drop it into casual conversation.


All Souls seemed rather solemn and sad after all that interesting fun.  However, as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realise that it’s all part of the same thing: that not only will the kingdom of heaven be full of people like St Francis and St Peter, but that it will be and is full of a great cloud of everyday witnesses that I have known and loved and that, because of Jesus, I hope to see again one day.


This fascinating three days of light and darkness is special to me for another reason: it includes the anniversary of my baptism, when as a tiny baby, I was given a lit candle by my grandfather (because he was a priest, not because he was clueless about the combination of babies with fire) and told to ‘shine as a light in the world’.  My parents and Godparents promised to bring me up to follow Jesus, to join, eventually, that same company of saints.  So, every year, I take out my special silver candlestick (the candle itself is long since burnt away) and light a candle to remember those promises.


Allhallowtide is also an opportunity, like Frederick Mouse, to look back in order to look forward.  To remember old friends with the hope of seeing them again.  To store up the past summer in words for the winter, and beyond that, for the coming spring.

So, writers and readers, whether and however you celebrate Allhallowtide, may I encourage you to stop, look up,  and stretch your eyes to the horizon in every direction - to the work you’ve completed, to the end of this project, to the place of everything in God’s plan, and to your own crowd of witnesses - and to recharge your light with the Light of the World before you go back to letting your words shine through the winter.

Amy, the publicity officer for the ACW, is a writer, performance storyteller and ventriloquist.  She has written three books about puppetry and storytelling, published by Kevin Mayhew, and provides scripts and materials for GenR8, a Cambridgeshire charity running Christian assemblies and events in schools.

7 comments:

  1. I love this and need that book! My son and daughter-in-law take part in this fab thing in Sheffield called Streets of Light. Is that similar to what you do? They made wonderful silhouettes for the windows in their house. Tried to put a photo here but failed. Very inspiring post. Thank you!

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    1. The title of the book in the blog is a link to it...it is a lovely one to own! Our LightCraft is more of a single event/party, but the windows sound wonderful.

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  2. I love Frederick already. Great post, Amy.

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  3. What a thoughtful post. I was reminded of the days when I was a Sunday school leader and we had an alternative happening to Hallowe'en in which we learned about saints and celebrated their lives. My own daughter and a friend, both at a loving-the-gruesome age, selected St Lawrence because he was burned on a griddle and is reputed to have said to his tormentors, 'Turn me over - I'm done on that side.' They had great fun making flames out of cardboard! The idea of looking back to the summer for light to keep us going in the darker days is one I shall remember. Thank you.

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    1. Yes! I also love St Cecilia who carried on singing through her slit throat, and St Edmund whose head was found and guarded by a wolf after it had been separated from his body...hagiographies are fun.

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  4. Frederick is such a sweet book!

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  5. Frederick sounds like a great book!!!
    Looking back to look forward is always a great idea :)

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