One of the lovely introductions this year was to the Celtic New Year called Samhain. (I learned of this celebration in Crossing the Threshold: New Year, New Beginnings by Christine Paintner). One of the significant features of Samhain is the honoring of ancestors…particularly those who have gone before us into the spiritual realm upon leaving their earthly bodies.
Throughout this week, I have been thinking of those people and beings who have "gone before me." I had great visions of ways that I would like to honor them on this day. Alas my time and technical abilities (artistically speaking) are somewhat lacking and so my celebration has been simple…and possibly all the sweeter because of that simplicity.
Today I made the simple altar featured here. In it (from left to right) are photos of my mother and father, my mother’s family of origin (she is the blonde girl in the center), my husband’s mother who died the same year as my father and, last but not least, my beloved Curry. This afternoon after arranging the photos, I sat before them and played Sarah MacLachlan’s beautiful song, "I will remember you." It was a sweet time and I could feel the presence of each being—including my mother-in-law who I never had the privilege of meeting.
This evening just as the sun was setting, I lit the five candles—one for each photo. And so, as the trick or treaters have come and gone throughout the evening, my husband and I have sat here with our ancestors—feeling their presence and honoring them in our own way.
Throughout the week, my brother and sister were kind enough to share some memories with me of our family. As the youngest sibling by several years, I have often felt like some memories slipped away before I had the opportunity to know they even existed. Tonight I shared one of these vignettes with my husband. It was a new story for me and one I delight in about my mother’s father, Birt (he sits to my mother's left in the group photo.) Here is the story as told by my brother:
dropped out of school at about 8th grade. (It might have been 6th grade.)
When he started first grade, he figured that he knew just about
everything there was to know. Each year he found there was more that he
didn't know. He decided the best course was to abandon school before he
found out that he didn't know anything at all.
I recall a story of his arrival in Bethany with not much but what he
could carry. He found a job as a carpenter, but had to borrow a saw for
his first day on the job. He earned enough to buy his own tools, and
built his livelihood from there. He did well. Maybe it's a good thing he
didn't keep going to school to find out how much he didn't know.
My grandfather went on to be quite the entrepeneur and land owner as well as from what I remember a pastor of sorts. Although he died when I was about 12 years old, his story reminded me of my own tag line here @ Diamonds: The more I learn the less I know. It is no small wonder how the blood of our ancestors runs through our veins.
Wishing you a happy new year and hoping you might share a few of your own memories here with me & mine ☺.