This blog invites readers to ponder being spiritual beings. What does the Divine want from us? How do we pray? What are we supposed to do?
Where are we going? How are we supposed to get there? What is our purpose in Life? Infinite questions...some thoughts to guide the way to answers...
“In order to experience everyday spirituality, we need to remember that we are spiritual beings spending some time in a human body.” Barbara De Angelis
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Around the world, during the months of October and November, people celebrate various observances for those who have died. Honoring the dead during is different from culture to culture. Yet, many of the old ways inform how we celebrate and honor the dead, today
Halloween comes from an ancient Pagan feast called, Samhain. This was part harvest celebration and part feast of the dead, because the Pagan people of Ireland and Great Britain believed that during this time of the year, the veil that separated this life from the next was lifted. They believed their dead ancestors would come to visit, along with unwelcome spirits. The creation of jack-o-lanterns was a way to keep unwanted ghosts from visiting.
Later, this celebration was divided into two celebrations - All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The faithful would celebrate all the saints, asking for help or intercession in the year ahead on All Saints Day and pray for the souls of those that had died that year on All Souls Day. All Souls Day is called the Day of the Dead in Mexico. These holy days are observed each November 1 and 2.
Halloween or All Hallows Eve is observed the night before All Saints Day - October 31. Part ancient feast and part religious ceremony, during the early days of this celebration, children would dress up as saints, usually their name saint, to march through the streets of the village collecting money and gifts for the poor.
In Japan, the observance is a bit earlier - around August 15 - and is called the Bon Festival. This is a Buddhist tradition, which comes from a legend of a man who asks Buddha to help him after he realizes that his mother is in the realm of the Hungry Ghosts. Buddha told the man to pay homage to the monks. He did, his mother was released from the Hungry Ghost realm and the man danced with joy. This feast is a joyous occasion with song, dancing and fireworks.
The Korean observance, also around August 15, is called Chuseok. The Koreans give thanks to their ancestors for a good harvest. Like Japan, there is dancing, food and drink.
The honoring of ancestors in China occurs in April during Qingming or Tomb Sweeping Day. Chinese families meet at the tombs of their ancestors and literally clean them, burning incense and offering prayers.
Honoring our ancestors, our dearly beloved family and friends is as important today as in the past. Regardless of when or how you honor the dead, may your memories be joyous and may the be balm for your heart and bring you peace.
A wise old bear once said, "We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.” (A. A. Milne)
Fifty years ago, in a small community hall overseen by the Sister's of Charity, a group of teenagers were simply having fun making music, dancing and creating bonds that would last a lifetime. Recently, at their 50th reunion, the realization of Pooh's wisdom hit home.
Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s definition of how friendship forms "includes the following criteria: 'Love is a momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events:
First, a sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another; second, a synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors; and third, a reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.' What is then created, when this criteria is met, is a moment of love. And when one finds another that they are able to share several such moments, bonds are created, loyalt…
Someone told their elder that they didn't pray. Curious, the elder asked why. The person told the elder that they were never taught any prayers. So, the elder asked the person what they said when they saw something beautiful. The person replied, "Oh God, how beautiful." The elder next asked what did the person say when they wanted to show their love for someone. Looking at the elder like she was totally crazy, the person said, "I say, I love you."
The elder stood quiet for a second. With a huge smile, she lifted her head and said, "Then, you pray all the time!"
~~~~~ Prayer is conversation with the Creator, the Divine, the Source of All. Conversation isn't a canned script. Conversation is the exchange of words to express ideas and feelings as well as the sound of the words, facial expressions, gestures and unconscious thoughts. A simple, "Thank You," can be the catalyst for a conversation that lasts a lifetime. But how does the Almighty spea…
Hope His the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me. Emily Dickinson Hope is needed in great quantities these days. Sometimes, we actually need a reminder that there is always hope, even in the darkest moments. I had one such reminder as I watched a flock of robins feeding on the lawn. One was up on a branch singing to beat the band. Emily's poem popped into my head, along with the reminder not to despair. Then, my teacher's mind realized this was a teachable moment! In many cultures, birds are messengers from the Great Spirit, the Creator, God. Birds are symbolic of angels. They can be found everywhere, yet, are fleeting and difficult to hold onto. Hope is the same way, I think. We nee…