For many around the world, last night’s All Hallow’s Eve (Hallowe’en), today’s All Saints Day, and tomorrow’s All Souls Day and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) form what is known as “AllHallowTide.” If you’ve seen the movie “Coco,” you’ll understand why I think of all of the days of AllHallowTide (October 31 – November 2nd) as “thin places.
Thin Places – what is that? what does it reference? Celtic spirituality refers to “thin places” as places where the veil between this world and the eternal/Other world is thin and where 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. But who are “saints”? Are saints people like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Hilda of Whitby, St. Hildegaard of Bingen, etc.? Yes – but they’re not the ‘only’ saints for me.
I think of a saint as ‘someone the light shines through.’ The ‘ordinary’ saints … saints such as those who have died during this pandemic … saints such as those who have died because of war, hunger, poverty, violence, racism, politics … saints such as those whose “light has shone” at some time, in some way, in my heart, directly or indirectly.
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 and my life was blessed.
I remember my teachers and mentors (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 other teachers/mentors I have been privileged to know and learn from over the years, and 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”) brings the Celtic understanding of ‘thin places’ to a gentle place of understanding for me ( “Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me. ‘Be still. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands” they say.” First Nations peoples in Canada and Indigenous peoples around the world speak gently of their “ancestors” with great reverence and understanding. Some religious people pay homage to their ancestors with phrases such as “May their memory be a blessing” and “May s/he rest in peace.”
AllHallowTide for me is, indeed, a ‘thin place’ – a hallowed time – of connection with the saints. May we honour their memories, their wisdom, love, sacrifice, dedication with gratitude and remembrance. May their memory be a blessing and may they rest in peace for all eternity.
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© June Maffin
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© June Maffin