Halloween – Really All Hallows Eve, the Eve of All Saints Day which is followed by the Feast of all Souls in the church tradition. Three days set aside as leaves are falling, the earth begins (in the northern hemisphere) its long glide into dormancy, darkness, coldness, with only the evergreen trees and shrubs watching guard as sentinels and protectors of the light and energy stored in their chlorophyll tinted carbohydrate molecules. It is a natural time of year for the contemplative among us to ponder the eternal cycles of birth, death and rebirth that mark so much of our experience of life, being, in time.
This three-day observance begins with pranking, merry making, disguising our “selves” and our fears of our mortality, death, by literally taunting and making fun of it all! As the Reverend Sam Portaro reminds us, ‘our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.” (The Brightest and The Best). Perhaps this is also the power of late-night TV, winding down after the evening’s news of the brutalities of the day with one’s comedian of choice to settle our troubled hearts and minds for a good night’s sleep.
All Saints and All Souls then beckon us to recall the lives of those who have gone before us and made life a little better for others by confronting the powers of evil and death in large and small measure – offering some assurance that we too live lives that matter, that make a difference, if only we can live with a small measure of the intention with which the saints and souls we recall exemplified.
Three days in the fall – beginning with children as goblins and superheroes hilariously “scaring” us in their annual extortion scheme to gather as many carbohydrates as humanly possible to make it through the cold and dark of winter. The laughter, the celebrations, the parties then dissolve into serious reflection on how our lives fit into the lives of those who have gone before, and vice versa. The prophet Isaiah garnered meaning as he watched fallen leaves blow across his path. Three days offered as gift – the gift to stop and ponder life and death and how they really are all one and the same – two dimensions of an eternity lived in the heart of God’s eternal love – a love that knows no end. A love that surrounds us on all sides at all times. Take time to watch the leaves fall swirl. Take time to remember our ancestors. Laugh at our fears, rejoice in the cycles that promise new birth, new life, as the dormancy of winter will once again blossom in spring.