Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Loss, Love & Hope on the Day of the Dead


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

                                                  Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV

Our two Trenton grandchildren are in French school, which means that we are regularly in awe of their skills in a language we spent years supposedly learning in the public system, to no avail. They enjoy quizzing us on French words and are pleasantly surprised when we translate them correctly. They have little conversations about bodily functions en francais which we are alerted to by the giggling. 

This is also a Roman Catholic school which recognizes certain religious holidays. On the weekend they were telling us that Dia de los Muertos was coming up  today, successfully venturing into Spanish. Along with the Day of the Dead this is All Souls Day, and both traditions honour the dearly departed, remembering and cherishing those we have loved and lost. The Day of the Dead is very much part of Mexican culture and generally more playful or joyous, with humorous stories shared about those who have moved from this life to the next. Our conversation meandered around to the wonderful animated film Coco, which uses the theme of the Day of the Dead to tell a story of loss and hope. 

Years ago at this time  took part in a seminar at Ghost Ranch, a Christian retreat and conference centre in New Mexico. There were a couple of what seemed like garish and macabre altars to celebrate Dia de los Muertos until I asked a few questions. 

I think it's lovely that the grandkids are learning about these traditions because we are part of a society which doesn't address death and grief all that well. Whether this is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead, we can recall our loved ones with all their foibles and strengths, don't you think? And we can affirm the "cloud of witnesses" as people of resurrection hope. 

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