As we all know yesterday was Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve as it is less commonly referred to. I know some people feel it is an evil day that should be shunned altogether, but I would respectfully disagree. It is said to be the night when all the spirits of our dear departed come back to life as the walls between our world and the next become thin and porous, allowing their spirits to pass through. Trick or treating was said to have started in the 16th century, when people went door- to- door in costume asking for food in exchange for a poem or a song. Many dressed as souls long gone in the hope that they were protecting themselves from the spirits.
I think of it as a time when we reflect on our mortal state and think about the spiritual world, whether we believe in ghouls and ghosts or not.
And is there any harm in letting our children have a little bit of fun as long as it is respectful and monitored by an adult? It seems to me that it heralds the start of the winter season; with cosy evenings, fireworks and bonfires, and the gradual build-up to Christmas.
But as we put away the pumpkins and scary costumes and finish up the sweets and treats for another year, perhaps there is time for a little reflection. Today the atmosphere seems fitting for just that. As November dawned this morning with an eerie damp mist, it was as if nature was calling time on the rich, golden hues of autumn and preparing us for winter. Nature always move on, as does life. And on All Hallows’ Day it is customary in many faiths to pray for those who have gone before us, to honour their memories and take time to remember for a while.
But it is not necessarily a time for sadness. It is a time for remembering good times, parties, family gatherings, and perhaps the loving touch of a grandparent long gone but who played a part in making us who we are.
I remember a Godmother who was a wonderful person; kind and always cheerful. She was disabled but never let it get her down, and indeed managed to drive a scooter. I will never forget her turning up at my school to pick me up; we roared home, laughing all the way. She left this world far too soon and I miss her still. I just hope she is up above somewhere riding high and keeping everyone entertained.
So today I will light a candle for all those we loved and love still. The friends I miss and still talk about, and a little person I never had the chance to know.
There is a certain wistfulness in the air today, which reminded me of one of my favorite poems.The last four lines are etched on a tombstone in the graveyard at St. Enedoc Church, Trebetherick, Cornwall. Beautiful.
The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.
For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;
Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
Blessings to you.