I have visited a lot of sacred places over the years. Although they were dedicated to different faiths, they all had one thing in common – HOPE. Hope is a miraculous elixir. When there seems to be nothing but negativity and doubt, a small ray of hope can brighten even the darkest nights. There is far too much cynicism and gloominess at the end of frightful year. I would like to spark a little beacon of hope for all of you.
Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. – Shel Silverstein
All day I have been thinking about hope. As I wrote, this afternoon I was looking out my window drinking coffee and eating cookies. Hey, it’s Halloween – and there has been way too many tricks these days. The sun is shining brightly through the trees, and woodpecker is methodically working his way around a branch … tap tapity tap tapity tap tap tap… I suddenly realized that the woodpecker’s tapping had a familiar beat. As it went around, I began tapping along and realized it was the intro drumbeat to the Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”.
Human beings plan their lives based on what they know from experience. We anticipate what is to come based on what came before. Our brains constantly calculate the percentages for potential futures. But there has never been a time like this. These are historically troubling times. Here in the US we have the confluence of so many potential omens: rising covid-19 cases and record infections; contentious election coming to a head; blue Hunter’s Moon on Halloween; clocks turning back; asteroid 2018VP1 approaching Nov 2; the iPhone 12 is available 😦 …
The last time there was a Blue Hunter’s Moon on Halloween was in 1944. At that time, my father was twenty years old and stationed on the island of Tinian. His squadron was fighting in the Battle of Peleliu. He earned two of his four Distinguished Flying Crosses at that time. Between combat missions, he played with a little dog that reminded him of the family dog back home. As the sun drifts towards the horizon, I will think of my Dad and the home he made for us – built with his own two hands.
It is Halloween. Halloween was my favorite holiday as a kid. I loved monsters, candy, fall, wandering around in the dark. My old university was nationally famous for our Halloween party. It was a massive celebration of thousands of inebriated youth. We basically took over the “Strip” for the night until chased off by the police, with even McDonald’s becoming a temporary bar. I was wandering around somewhere in this crowd dressed as a Gumby from Monty Python. We ended up in the cemetery after midnight trying to commune with the spirits.
But there is a much older holiday at this time. The Gaelic Samhain (pronounced “sow-win” ) marks the midpoint between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This begins the darker half of the year. The Celtic day began and ended at sunset so magic is in the air. The barriers between the physical world and the spirit world. Because the barriers between worlds had dropped, people dressed like animals and monsters to avoid being kidnapped by fairies. The ancient mystical energy is stirring. But the evil forces are overcome by people working together to celebrate victory over tribulation.
For millions of believers November 1 is All Saints Day but is also el Dia de los innnocentes or the day of the children. November 2 is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. During the days of the Dead, some believe that the souls of the departed return to earth to visit family and loved ones. November 2ndis a day to remember and honor those who have past. Spend a few moments to think about those wonderful people, who loved you and who you loved, who have physically left this world but not our hearts and souls.
We all have sacred spaces in our lives. Temples, shrines, churches, mosques, chapels,… All these are sanctuaries for our spirits. I’ll never forget my grandmother telling me, “you can pray anywhere. You don’t have to go to a church”. Home has always been a sacred place to me. Home is where I pray and commune with life. I am sure we all have been praying in our own way these days. That hope, offered up from your heart to the Universe is what will get us through this year. Our spirits will shine brightly, and the world will change for the better.
I have talked to my children and tried to reassure them that even though there is great uncertainty, and anxiety, there will be better times up ahead. Even though they are wonderful adults, I think back to our darkest time as a family. It was just after my very bitter divorce. Our world had been shattered. For weeks afterwards, each night my sweet little ones, age 7, 5, and 3, would wonder down the hallway, one by one and climbed into my bed. I would wake up, with one angel under each arm and one across my lap. In the gray shadows of those days, I kept the light of hope lit in my heart. I felt the spirits watching over us. I feel that same presence these days.
Keep hope alive because the omens and portends will keep coming. For instance, December 14 meteor shower and solar eclipse, and on December 22, the Winter Solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will meet in their closest conjunction since 1623. See these as signs of change. Great change is happening all around us these days. As Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction”. There is a new world being created. We can fashion that world from hope or from fear – please choose hope.
Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. – J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye