What is it like for you to pause and recall the deceased people of your past who enabled you to be the person you are today? I don’t do it often enough but when I do, these memories bring both gratitude and and a resolve to shape my life in a way that makes a positive difference. This is the time of year when Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) takes center stage before the feast of All Saints and All Souls Day. These celebrations have their roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which emphasized a potential connection with those who have died and gone before us, who somehow remain available to us if we call upon them to draw near. The festival recognizes this ethereal relationship—a “thin veil”—a time when the world of spirits easily opens up to allow passing back and forth from their realm of existence to ours. Some find this possibility spooky or fearful, while others accept this inexplicable kinship as strengthening and uplifting. The latter has been my experience.
Probably not many people have this intimate connection in mind when praying The Litany of Saints which addresses designated holy ones. Yet those very requests invite a relationship with the saints—”pray for us, hear us, be with us, reassure us.” We encourage a similar connection when remembering valued relatives, teachers, guides and mentors. When I journey back in my personal history, I am awed by how many persons touched my life—a great aunt whose generous, nonjudgmental love taught me the value of kindness, my second grade teacher who inspired me to approach prayer as a personal relationship, the college professor who asked me the surprising question that led to my entering a religious community, the friend whose compassion resurrected my joy—on and on the memories flow, and with them comes an ever fuller amazement and appreciation.
This month: Find a quiet spot of solitude where you can gather treasured memories of the wise ones, the truth-tellers and shapers-of-heart, who have influenced your life.
· Whose wisdom significantly marks the path of life you have taken?
· Who stood by you and moved you through troublesome times?
· Whose spirituality or theology has guided and grounded your own?
· Who brought you steadfast love and indelible acceptance?
· Who inspired and encouraged you to believe in your abilities?
Let us draw near this month to those whose presence has gifted us in memorable ways.