Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

When the Dead Talk

Some time after my grandfather died years ago, he came to me in dreams. Most often, the extended family was gathered for dinner. We were all busy laughing and eating, reminiscing and storytelling. Then Granddad would walk in. No one was astonished by his appearance, which was not ghostlike. We welcomed him among us. But he never spoke a word in return. He was mute. The dead may be with us, in memory and spirit, but they are mute.

Or are they? I thought about this on the past All Saints Day. Then we remembered all who have gone before us in Christ, not least our loved ones. In my Episcopal tradition—as in the catholic tradition in general—we petition the dead to pray for us. Perhaps they hear our prayers through God, and not directly. But surely it is not too spooky to imagine that our beloved dead pray for us. That is when and how the dead talk—surrounded in glory, praising God, and praying for the full coming of the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven.

In that respect, the communion of (deceased) saints pray ultimately and eschatologically. Like us, they await the day when they will assume their resurrection bodies. They await the descent of the New Jerusalem to earth. They await the healing and consummation of all creation. So, they pray, and in their prayer they talk. The dead’s voice is stilled for us, but it is not mute.



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