Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The gratitude challenge - All Souls' Day

A friend has just posted a gratitude challenge that she did last year - one thing you're grateful for in every day of November. I want to do this because I tend to focus on what needs fixing and I need to shift that, but also because I'd like to write more regularly. I missed yesterday, so I'll be a bit naughty and do two in a post soon - but for today, it'll just be the one, since it's an unusual one.

I am grateful for All Souls' Day - the day the Catholic Church commemorates the faithful departed. It may seem an odd thing to be grateful for, but it is one of my favourite days - and masses - of the year.

I'm a twilight girl by nature, so I'll naturally prefer the nighttime Easter Vigil to the brightness of Easter Day; the shadows of All Souls to the dazzling All Saints. But my gratefulness is about far more than my preference.

In a world where we are told that we are failures if we are not perpetually happy, where we worship youth and shun aging and death, a day dedicated to death, prayer and grieving brings us back into the natural rhythm. We belong to both the light and shadow, joy and sorrow - we cannot have one without the other. It has been said that burnout is caused by a failure to grieve our losses, leading to a loss of joy and purpose, and an inability to act.

We need to grieve to live.

And so, I give thanks for this day of requiem: a day of black vestments, unbleached candles, minor keys, and twilight. This day, we enter grief's domain, and pray in the depths of our souls for those losses we have suffered in a way no one else has suffered them - but do so collectively, knowing that those next to us also grieve. And as we widen the spiral of prayer for the dead and bereaved to include their sorrow, those in our pew, and our church, the Church, the world...we go deeply into the heart of our grief, and come out the other side, finding solace, catharsis and peace.

And so today, even my facebook status marks this descent:

Irim is in an All Souls' mood: introspective, melancholy, praying for all souls, those who stand at the veil, and all who grieve - and looks forward to Anerio, unbleached candles, black vestments and stillness.

Even in the heart of grief, I am blessed to be part of this tradition.

Thank you.


Dorothy said...

You know I'm not Catholic, but I must say that even I appreciate All Soul's Day. I appreciate the focus on those who are no longer with us. I like how you put it, "We need to grieve to live."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for fulfilling this role in a way that I am currently unable to do, even though I would like to be able to do more. Your presence (like your actions) are much appreciated...