We saw in 2020 at the fireside, in a small courtyard of a Regency theatre in Cambridge, UK. We had dropped into the firepit the red petals on which we had written what we chose to let go with the Old Year.

As fireworks burst in flowers of sparks in the clear sky overhead, we witnessed the turning to ash of what we had relinquished. We turned to our companions and greeted one another in the New Year, and laughed and hugged. The harmonies of our Amitabha chant lightened the air.

I was the last to leave the ember pit. I had been speaking with the partner of one of my Buddhist teachers, about the commonalities between Buddhist practice and Christian spirituality. He owned to enjoying that evening’s ritual, while yet he knew that the iconography of his Christian upbringing was too strong for him to move away from it.

As I went home, smoky and warm, I recalled having written – two decades ago – a poem that referenced “the communion of saints” (a phrase that some of you will recognize from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and its successors). The poem, as I remembered, played with the words “saint” (from sanctus = holy), “whole” (from kóylos = healthy, whole ), and “holy” itself (hāliġ = holy, consecrated, sacred, venerated, godly, saintly…)

Re-reading it this new year’s morning, I smiled to see that the poem also welcomes our releasing streams in the desert, letting joy bubble up like water in our spiritual desert-land, refreshing and restoring life. And I changed “communion” to “community”, which now seems more apt.

Happy 2020 to you all, from the middle-aged-me of 2001, 2005, and the elder of now (and actually, from the little one too).

I believe in the community of saints

(to Ronald and Vilokini)

I believe in the community of saints

The common ground between all those who are holy,

The shared experience of wholeness

Because being whole is about full and flowing over,

Flowing out and beyond.

Discovering our wholeness

We feel joy bubbling, vitality dancing out,

And the old stream beds in the desert

Are alive again with running water, our water,

Running out towards the others.

I believe in the community of saints

© Kathy McVittie 2001, revised 2005, 2020