Monday, October 31, 2011

the veil is thinnest today

This is all Hallows Eve, All Souls Day, the Day of the Dead and Samhain, the Celtic festival of the dead. It is the time of the year when the veil between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead is the thinnest it ever gets. Pagan traditions tell us that today is when we can call the names of our beloveds and they can hear us, that if we gaze at the mist in just the right way we might be able to see those who are gone from us. It is a time to say goodbye, to remember and to let go.

At church yesterday, we did a bunch of stuff about remembrance and loss and mourning and saying goodbye. We lit a lot of candles and we spoke many names into the darkness of the sanctuary. (The power and heat were out at the church because of the snowstorm that hit overnight, so the candles were necessary and welcome for a variety of reasons.)

Rituals such as this are for the living, I understand that. They are so we can have something to do that allows us to let got of loss and pain that we've been carrying around. I was in a weird place, though. My father died in June. The pain is still accessible should I think about it all too much, but Sunday is not the place for me to do that. At least that's not my understanding. It is the time for clergy to lead worship, not necessarily speak the name of our own departed and lost. Although my supervising minister spoke some names. I heard him do it. I don't know what to do with that. I will ask him this week. The service on Sunday is about me serving the divine and the congregation, not about me getting my own spiritual needs for healing met. I wonder if maybe I was more healed from this loss if I would have been better able to speak my father's name and let it go than I am now. Now I think I would have cried still. There's a lot of healing I have left to do.

The day of the dead thing does not exactly fit with my theology. I don't believe that we can see from the realm of the living into the realm of the dead, nor that anyone there can hear if we call out their name to say goodbye. I understand that it is a ritual through which we get healing, but I don't see it as literally true. I think the imagery is good and helpful as a meditative guide to the emotional release, but theologically, I am still a tad confused. Where is god in this? Where is the divine? I think god is in the healing, in the release, in the lifting of the burden of mourning and sadness. I think god is in the ritual where we stand together and hold space for each other's pain and support each other as we let it go. Is god a thing that we can pray to in this moment to relieve suffering? I suppose. But I am not inclined to believe that the divine works like that. I tend to think that the divine exists in the love and compassion we share with each other. Still thinking. More tomorrow.

Post Script:
I ended up in the Emergency Room at Beth Israel in Boston Saturday afternoon. I spent 8+ quality hours there getting poked and prodded and scanned and x-rayed only to be told that nobody's exactly sure what happened, but I seemed better so go home and get some rest. Even with my new insurance from school, I may have just spent a full day accomplishing what amounts to a $30,000 nap. We'll see what's covered and what's not and I'll let you know. Making an appointment with a regular doc today to follow up.

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