Every year as All Saints Sunday approaches, I think about a book I read years ago, “A Prayer for Owen Meany.” In the book, author John Irving tells the story of John Wheelwright (who acts as narrator of the entire novel) and his best friend, Owen Meany, growing up in a small New Hampshire town during the 1950s and 1960s.
John was good looking, popular, and his family had money. Owen, however, came from the other side of the tracks. To say he was different than most other kids his age would be an understatement. He was small, very small, with a sharp nose and big ears. His skin was pale and translucent, which made him look more like an old man than a kid. And on top of all that was his voice, which was high-pitched and very unusual.
It is the opening line of the book, spoken by John, that I think about during this time of the year: “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”
The names that we read this All Saints Day, like the names from All Saints Days of the past, remind me of the people in my life who pointed me to Jesus Christ. Through their words and their actions, we have tasted the grace and peace that only God offers. The names we read are each an Owen Meany to somebody, and we need people like them in our lives — people who make it possible to believe. This is why we miss those people so dearly when we lose them.
This All Saints Day take a breath and remember the Owen Meany in your life. And maybe this will be a good day to remember that to someone, you just may be their Owen Meany….
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