Today is the Feast of All Souls. You might be confused--didn't we just celebrate this holiday yesterday?
No, that was All Saints. All Saints was originally designed to honor the saints, those who had been beatified. Official saints, canonized by the Pope.
All Souls Day, celebrated the day after All Saints, was designed to honor everyone else who had died.
For more on the spiritual aspects of this day, go to this post on my theology blog. Here's my favorite bit from that blog post: "Soon we will be skating down the corridor which takes us to Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's a time of breathless pace for many of us. Let us take another day to remember the souls of those gone before us. Let us think of our own mortal souls which will not be on this earth for a very long time. Let us resolve to strengthen our spiritual lives, so that we serve as living lanterns for those coming after us."
Too much religious language for you? Change the language to one that talks about your artistic life. Let me try:
Soon we will be skating down the corridor which takes us to Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's a time of breathless pace for many of us. Let us take another day to remember the artists before us. Let us think of ourselves which will not be on this earth for a very long time. Let us resolve to strengthen our creative lives, so that we serve as living lanterns for those coming after us. Let us recommit to our creative projects, now, before the holidays overtake us.
I have taken my own advice. Before I started blogging, I wrote a poem from start to finish this morning. I hate to think about how rare that's becoming. When writing that piece at my theology blot, I had an image of a lonely woman, her loved ones laid to rest in distant graveyards, preparing a picnic anyway on the Day of the Dead. I created a few lines. Maybe I'll have another poem by the end of this triduum.
Yesterday I came across a reference piece that talked about the triduum of Halloween, All Saints and All Souls. Triduum means "three days," but I've only ever heard of it used as the time period between Good Friday and Easter.
But I digress. I began the morning by reading Beth's excellent post which inspired my own thoughts about riding the Metro in Miami. I remember the young black man with dreads who was slowly working his way through Moby Dick. One morning a guy in tattered clothes was asking each commuter to give him some money so that he could get home. The guy with dreads gave him his multi-ride Metro card, which I thought was a brilliant solution.
I couldn't resist asking him how much was left on the card. He held up 3 fingers. So, he wasn't out much money, but the destitute man had a way to get home. Everyone wins!
I remember another trip when a young black man leapt to the front of the subway car and shouted, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention!" We shifted uneasily as the guy opened his case.
He pulled out a violin and as the sunset bathed us in the perfect shade of rosy light, he played. People smiled and put money in his violin case.
I've been looking for a way to use that image in a poem for years now. Perhaps this morning I succeeded. I threw in some Halloween images, the skeletons of condos straining to the sky, the Metro as a jack-o-lantern.
Now it's time to get ready for my Saturday. But we all have an extra hour tonight as we change the clocks back: let's resolve to spend that time on our creative work.
A poet, a scholar, an administrator, a wanna-be mystic--always wrestling with the temptation to run away to join an intentional community--but would it be contemplative? social justice oriented? creative? in the mountains? in the inner city?--may as well stay planted and wrestle with these tensions and contradictions here, at the edge of America.