For many around the world, All Hallow’s Eve (Hallowe’en), yesterday’s All Saints Day, and today’s All Souls Day form what is known as “AllHallowTide.” If you’ve seen the movie “Coco” you are aware of the Mexican Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and will understand how I understand it and all of the days in AllHallowTide as “thin places.

Celtic spirituality refers to “thin places” – places where the veil between this world and the eternal/Other world is thin and when one can walk in two worlds as the Other world is more near. Hallowe’en, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and Día de los Muertos are “thin places”, where those gone before us can be remembered via cultural rituals and religious services.

Is it only the “special” saints like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Hilda of Whitby, St. Hildegaard of Bingen, etc. who are saints?

Not for me.
I think of a saint as ‘someone the light shines through.’
So what about saints of our hearts?
Ordinary saints, not just extraordinary saints?
Saints such as those who have died during this pandemic.
Saints such as those who have died because of hunger, poverty, violence, racism, politics.
Saints such as those whose “light has shone” at some time, in some way.

I think of my parents, Joy and Eddie Mack; my husband Hans van der Werff, my brothers Eric Mack and Gerry Mack and sisters Lois Lucas and Fran Talbot. All gone from this earth, but not gone from memory or gratitude for their presence in my life. The light of love “shone” through each of them.

I remember my teachers – secular and spiritual (especially Mrs. Lancey, Mr. Snyder, Miss Smith, The Reverend Jack Major), for the light of their mentorship, knowledge and love which “shone” through each of them and many others I have known over the years. I love to think of them as ‘saints.’

Mahatma Ghandi (In his Spiritual Message to the World in 1931) seemed to speak of ‘thin places‘ when he said:
There is an indefinable, mysterious power that pervades everything.
I feel it, though I do not see it.
It is this unseen power that makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses.
It transcends the senses.

The words of Linda Hogan (in her book “Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living Dead”) brings the Celtic understanding of ‘thin places’ to a gentle place of understanding for me:
“Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me.
‘Be still’ they say.
‘Watch and listen.
You are the result of the love of thousands.'”

AllHallowTide for me is, indeed, a hallowed time .
A hallowed time of remembering and giving thanks.
May each ‘thin place’ be a moment of connection with the saints we have encountered.
May we honour their memories, their wisdom, their love, etc., with gratitude and remembrance.
May their memory be a blessing.

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© June Maffin
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© June Maffin
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