The fun and frolic of Halloween is over for the year, with empty candy wrappers and well-worn costumes set aside as evidence of the revelry. Our friend Stephanie Wyatt used to remind me that when changes are happening and people are scared, we like to throw parties. It’s a way of trying to embrace the mystery rather than run from it or squash it down. I think this time of year is a wonderful example of that bit of our humanity.
Hallowe’en is All Hallow’s Eve, the old vigil where people kept watch as all Saints Day approached. In Northern Europe, Christian celebrations of the dead began to happen near the same time as other pagan festivals, whether by design or by chance (there’s actually some debate about that, tempting as it is to blame medieval church for taking over all of pagan Europe’s customs). The Celtic festival of Samhain happened in early November to mark the start of winter, and featured faerie folk and mischief more than witches and ghouls (ghosts are actually probably an entirely Christian contribution, owed to the notion of praying for the departed in purgatory). Closer to home, throughout Mexico and Texas Day of the Dead is widely celebrated, a Christianized veneration of the dead that emerged from an ancient Aztec festival. Veneration of the dead through ancestral altars and burying grounds is a global practice, spanning a variety of cultures and beliefs.
Sunday, we will live into our particular version of this. All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls day are collectively known as Hallowmas, and with the set dates of October 31st– November 2nd dating back to the 8th century. We seek to hold the mystery of time together for this day – past, present and future colliding in our practices. With a little thoughtfulness, we invoke a “thin place” where the sacred comes close to our ordinary lives. Those who have gone before us come close to our hearts and minds, reminding us that we come from somewhere in a distant past, that our present lives have meaning and power, and that our future is part of a mysterious unknown that we entrust to God.
Join us Sunday as we honor those who have gone before us. You can bring pictures or mementos or memories – something meaningful to remember the dead. We’ll place it on our altar. You are welcome to honor those you’ve known personally and those who’ve shaped you in wider culture. There will be space for silence, space for speaking, and, we pray, opportunity to come close to Holy Mystery.
Please join us Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center.