In the Company of the Ancestors

One of the things I most appreciate about the Catholic faith in which I was raised is the tradition of All Saints and All Souls Days.   Every year on the first two days of November, we are invited to reflect upon and remember all those who have gone before us, who have been examples for us and now stand as spiritual sources of intercession and support.  In celebrating All Saints Day and All Souls Day, we recognize the infinite and immortal nature of our spiritual selves and are comforted in knowing that our physical death is not the end and in life we are never alone.  Whether or not I choose to attend mass on a regular basis, I look forward each year to celebrating these holy days. 

I was recently reminded of my fondness for this tradition through several dreams in which my own ancestors made an appearance.  Now, I could choose to explore the deeper meaning of these dreams through modern psychology which would suggest that these dreams are merely reflections of something going on in my deeper subconscious.  While this may prove to be helpful, the contemplative journey, coupled with the tradition of All Saints, allows me to be open to the possibility that these dreams are more than a function of my own subconscious and may in fact be a visitation from beyond.  The contemplative journey, from its place of non-duality, also reminds me that I do not have to make a choice.  I can choose to explore these dreams from all available vantage points, taking what proves to be life-giving and leaving behind the rest. 

In exploring these ancestral dreams, I find inspiration and comfort in the lives of those who have gone before me.  I am reminded of the unique giftedness of these ancestors and how their very DNA, and perhaps a part of their giftedness flows through my own veins and the veins of my siblings and children.  I am invited to look upon their life journeys from a place of compassion for the threads that have found their way into my life.  I can see my grandmother’s struggle with anxiety and depression and see the lessons that I have a chance to learn and rectify in my own journey.  I can examine my grandfather’s love of the land and how that has impacted my own life and the reminder that I should never stray too far from my woodland sanctuary. 

The greatest gift of this perspective, for me, is the reminder that our ancestors are never far away and are always available as a source of comfort and support.  I am aware of the painful lessons of their respective journeys and see their loving hands guiding me toward opportunities which bring healing to that pain, assisting not only myself, but those who will go after me.  I also hear them whispering guidance, encouragement, affirmation and support in the life-giving choices I have made and in the choices that lead me more and more into my own deepest truth.  In a human experience that can be frought with struggle, suffering and pain, it is nice to know that we are not alone and that there is support in helping us to discover and claim freedom and joy and that in doing so, we heal not only ourselves but those who have gone before us and those that come after.   The contemplative journey allows us to embrace this perspective.

So, for today, I give honor to my ancestors and invite you to do the same. 

“All You Holy Men and Women….Pray for us!”

 

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