Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Understanding the Dead

The Day of the Dead, or All Souls' Day in my tradition, has always had great resonance for me. It reminds me of my connection with that undiscovered realm beyond the natural world and also with remembering, which sometimes means re-membering.

Some years ago I read a book by Frederick Buechner, an eloquent spiritual writer. In it he says that memory is more than a nostalgic look back at a time past. It is, he says, "a looking out into another kind of time altogether where everything that ever was continues not just to be, but to grow and to change with the life that is in it still."

The implications of this powerful statement is that, in remembering and re-connecting with deceased loved ones in our families and with favorite authors and saints, we come to understand the dead in new ways; perhaps they come to understand us, and through them we come to understand ourselves.

This sounds mysterious because it is, because time and the timeless are mysteriously connected, as great art can sometimes remind us. I am reminded of my own last post, with that statement by Faulkner about the past as ever-present. I tend to apply this to prayer, which bridges the gap between the two realms. Today especially I join with others still living as we pray for the dead, not as they were on earth merely, but as they are now--and for ourselves and what we might become.

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