02 November 2011

Dia de los Muertos

It’s November 2, very chilly. Frost on the windows, cottonwoods blazing, migration winding down…quiet after the frantic rush of October, with 5 full weekends and me in a different place—a different state—for every single one of them. More on those a bit later, as I catch up on the writing.

Yesterday was Dia de los Todos Santos, the Day of All Saints. Today is Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. In spite of the name, Dia de los Muertos is a day of celebration of the lives of those who have left us. For many years, it has been, and continues to be, one of my favorite days, a point to stop and take stock of the meaning that loved ones bring to all our lives. It is more pivotal, more deeply personal, than the more commercial holidays of the season.

This year, most of our friends here are out of town at yet another meeting, so no big party. But there will be candles lit and remembrances made. There has not been a month this year without a loss, an illness, a disaster. Everyone I know has been affected by sadness. And yet, and yet, it has also been a year of deep and even joyous reconnections, of survival against the odds, and of celebration.

Here is a passage that best captures the feeling of the day:

“Día de los Muertos is on November 2nd, with celebrations beginning on November 1, Día de Muertos Chiquitos--The Day of the Little Dead also All Saints Day, and continuing on November 2, All Souls Day. It is a joyous occasion when the memory of ancestors and the continuity of life is celebrated. It is believed that at this time the souls of the departed return to visit the living. It is not a time of mourning since ‘the path back to the living world must not be made slippery by tears.’”

Here’s to the continuity, here’s to unbroken bonds, to friends, family, ancestors, memories, everything that makes us who we are and ties us together, here’s to…us.  I hope that you are lighting your own candle.

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