Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Feast of All Souls

November 2 is All Souls Day, following on the heels of All Saints' Day.

Among Celtic Christians in the centuries that had one number, much was done to 'baptize' the pagan religion that came before the Christian era. One of those things was to claim the last days of October and the first days of November as Christian Holy Days.

Other things happened--churches built on pagan holy places, painting pagan feasts with a Christian brush, putting monuments to Christian Saints on top of holy streams--stuff like that.

You see, to the Celts of the first centuries A.D. (or, as is more politically correct, 'the Common Era') these rare autumn days were some of the 'thin times' to the tribes of the British Isle.

A 'thin time' was when the veil between the living and the dead became sheer indeed and people from one side or the other might pass through. Trick or Treat came from this Celtic belief that the dead could walk among the living in this 'thin time' asking to be fed in exchange for messages from the other side.

So, it made perfect sense to put All Saints and All Souls right here.

I have a lot of Celtic blood (not nearly enough as I imagined since my DNA test told me I had 75% Scandinavian blood--but that was where my DNA was in the 5th Century and lots of those Norse guys came south to inhabit and impregnate the Celts!) So I'm aware, in odd ways, of 'thin times' and 'thin places'.

I often almost see my father moving out of sight in this house he never knew. I sometimes think if I turned real fast and looked in the back seat my uncle Russel or Aunt Georgie would be there. I'm quite sure that the dead sometimes walk among us, just out of our periphery vision. And that's comforting instead of eerie to me. I like thin places and thin times.

If, in this very thin time, I could have my druthers, I'd want to talk to my father about his father, who I never met. And I'd just like to hear my mother's voice, because I've forgotten it's tone and sound since she died 42 years ago when I was 25.

And I'd like to just sit in a room with  my mother's mom, my Granma Jones--who made me laugh and ponder and weep with the wonder of her presence.

Wouldn't it be nice, around this time of year each year, just to check in with those on the other side?

I think that would be a profoundly wondrous thing.

Thin Times are some of the best....

Happy All Souls Day, hang out with someone you love but see no more for a while.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.