For me, Hallowe’en always seems to mark a shift in seasons. Fall started a long time ago, I know, but something about the shortened hours of light and the colder air seems to make it more real when the month turns over into November. October 31st is also the first of 3 days that take us into a “darker” cycle of thinking. All Hallows’ Eve, followed by All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd, are reminders about our human life-span and the cycle of life and death that all living things experience. I think it’s important to have markers in our lives – a patterning that returns year upon year – reminding us of our own place in the cycle of life, and encouraging us to live in a more authentic way with our thoughts and memories, whether these are ones of joy or sorrow, sadness or celebration.
Another aspect of these days that I’ve come to appreciate is the notion of being in the company of those who have come before us. In the Christian tradition, we refer to the “cloud of witnesses” (from a Scripture passage at Hebrews 12:1), and to the “Company of the Saints”. For me, these phrases speak of viewing our own lives as linked with a long line of those who came before, and intertwining our journeys with theirs. This spiritual heritage can offer strength and reassurance in difficult times.
And so, as the sun sets and we approach this evening’s light-hearted and spooky fun, I hope there will also be time in the next couple of days to recognize some of the bitter-sweetness that underlies the nature of these holy-days. Time to remember some of those who have gone before and who are our personal saints. Perhaps these days may offer an invitation to honour these thoughts and memories with gentleness.