Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day: the Dias de los Muertos is about remembering. Whether you raise your glass on Friday night or crack open a candy bar, whether I'm remembering those we lost in our family this year or someone from yours, whether we choose the road less traveled or the road with comforting safety, we remember that our lives are marked by those who brought us here as we pave the way for those yet to come.
Sooner or later, I'll tire of this Camino theme. But it's near the end of October and we are about to celebrate All Souls Day and All Saints Day. Both days remind us that we need to engorge ourselves on Halloween, but that's a relatively modern form of commemoration.
All Saints Day (November 1) is an ancient feast day to honor the saints. All Souls Day (November 2) is feast day to remember those who had passed on, especially those caught in the tricky space called Purgatory. Halloween is "Hallow's eve" or the night preceding this holy period. All these days are now part of the Día de los Muertos celebration in Mexico, which many of us in Southern California also enjoy.
These days are meant to reflect and pray on and pray for those who preceded us. They might be saints or sinners, martyrs or meat-heads, friends or fleeting strangers. We look to them because they groomed the earth for us before moving on.
Which is why I care about what I do today. I hope to leave a place that is this much closer to a just and equitable land, this much closer to freedom to live one's life as God intended, this much nearer to a peaceful me in a peaceful world. My actions might be grand or more likely minuscule. I can help those in need or plant a tree or walk instead of drive. These actions when done mindfully pay homage to those from days gone by.
Stephen heads to a memorial up in Fresno for his uncle's wife on Saturday. I have commitments at church that keep me from joining him, but she will be in my heart this weekend. She was kind, lovely, and wonderfully chatty with me whenever we sat together. Would that I be remembered that way one day.
We also together are remembering Stephen's brother Tim who passed on in April. Talk about a spirit! No doubt he chose a path of exploration, of seeking, of questioning, of justice. Would that I be remembered that way one day.
I walk in the footsteps of those who laid down a path for me. They might be my ancestors, they might be those who fought for civil rights and for an equal place in the pews of my church. They might be the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago who laid signs down so that we can more easily follow their trailblazing ways.
In no case do I feel compelled to walk these roads. I know that I can walk a road less traveled. But in truth, I think that more people walk a flattened route with the least resistance than the route that challenges and inspires, that soars with awe inspiring views as often as it trips you up onto the gravel. One is safer than the other, yes, but both were set by those who came before us.
So, in honor of all these people, I walk the labyrinth, walk the trails, walk the life that others made possible. And I do so with a solemn respect that my life may one day be the yellow arrow for someone else who I may never meet. May you and I walk with that knowledge that we pave the way for generations to come and may God hold you up as a beacon for their way.