Notes from the Orchard - November 2017


More Notes from The Orchard – 48

November 2017


I am writing this on the evening when many people will be ‘celebrating’ Halloween. I have to say that this is the first year I can recall that on all the entertainment channels, together with general advertising, Halloween seems to be going on for a whole week – no longer just a day/evening thing! The shops are full of ugly and scary items – can you imagine eating a big black spider on a biscuit? Meeting witches with long, long nails and missing teeth? Dracula teeth dripping blood while nowadays clowns appear out of the dark as terrifying figures which children hate and fear? Do we really want to reinforce our children’s imaginations with these repulsive role models? Costumes for adults as well as children are available on what used to be called the ‘High Street’, now it’s the supermarkets and on line.  


For heaven’s sake bring back some beauty with angels, fairies, flowers and goodness! Yes, goodness – the opposite of evil. I added those six words because after I’d written the word ‘goodness’ at the end of the previous sentence, it looked almost alien. Conversely, the word ‘evil’ was instantly recognizable while ‘goodness’ is fast going out of fashion if not out of existence. . .


November is traditionally the time when we remember the dead. All Hallows day, 1st November, is also known as All Saints’ Day. It was well established by the 8th Century, though introduced in the 6th Century when it was celebrated in May. The original ‘saints’ were those who believed in Jesus and his teachings, St Paul refers to them in his epistles. However, when the Christians found themselves being persecuted to death under various Roman emperors, they became known as ‘martyrs’ – a Greek word which means ‘Witness’.  As time went by and Christianity was made the standard religion in the Roman Empire under Constantine there were fewer and fewer martyrs but there were lots of exceptionally good people. These began to be called Saints with a capital letter by the people who recognised their qualities and after the death of these good people, began to request their prayers in Heaven on the understanding they may have some special connection with Jesus and his mother Mary. This very fact, they thought, would advance their cause and make sure that God would get to answer their prayers. This seemed to be very effective and the number of official (canonised) saints grew. Rome ran out of days enabling each Saint to have a dedicated day of their own. The simple answer seemed to be to devote one special day to all the newer Saints, hence All Saints’ Day. Incidentally, Wikipedia doesn’t seem to be at all at home with this concept. Finding any  information takes quite a bit of hunting!


After All Saints Day became established, people then started worrying about their own relations. Trusting in the mercy of God, whereby all would eventually end up in Heaven, another day, the one after All Saints’ Day came into being: All Souls’ Day which is celebrated on 2nd November. This day is devoted to remembering our own deceased relatives and friends who will never get promoted to the official Calendar of Saints but who nevertheless we pray are safely in God’s gentle care.


Coincidentally, the end of World War I, which was so appalling that everybody thought there would never be anything like it again, fell in November 1918 when the Armistice was signed. All the usual formalities will mark the ninety-nine years since then and doubtless we shall all be generous with our money and time to mark the occasion. HRH Prince Harry has devoted himself to our military services whose role is now changing in response to new ways of seeing the needs of our world through a kinder viewfinder. How wonderful it would be if the arms manufacturers would or could do the same!  


May all our dear ones who have already passed through the gates to eternity discover that Heaven is all that was promised, and may all those who still have to wait for release from wars and poverty, sadness and loss, loneliness and ill-health be comforted by hope and love.  


Finally, let us always remember the words of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you.”



Sarah Bell


© Katy Bell