Jack-o-lanterns, costumes, haunted houses, creepy movies, trick-or-treating, scaring the bad spirits away, remembering the dead, honoring the saints, thinking of deceased family members - what a mishmash of Christian, Celtic and pagan traditions on these three days October 31, November 1 and November 2. Remembering the dead, our ancestors, or recently deceased family members (people and animals) is not only an opportunity to honor them and cherish their memory, but also a way to reconnect with the reality of life as a natural element in the larger cycle that inevitably includes death. Because of our current linear way of understanding time (there are other ways to understand time), with a beginning and an end, we see death as final. And that is scary. And the more we ignore and sweep that part of life under the rug the scarier it becomes. Since dying is part of being human, being alive, participating here in this earth experience, we may as well celebrate this aspect.
It may help to remember that all natural processes are circular and cyclical and that death might not be as final as we tend to think in our culture. A tree loses its leaves every fall and is reborn every spring for many many cycles. And even when a tree finally dies it eventually turns to humus, which nourishes and feeds new seeds and tree shoots, and thus the tree reenters the never-ending cycle of life and death anew. We are no different.
Let's celebrate life this week-end, let's celebrate death. It's all part of the same thing. Happy Halloween!