I am both inspired by LaPadre's recent ritual post for Samhain and with the idea of All Saint's Day or a time of Remembering our Ancestors.
As I ponder All Saint's Day, knowing that October holds the anniversary of my mother's death so many years ago, I am suddenly moved to tears. There were so many conversations that I never had with her...
...Wow, toddlers are crazy! How did you do it?
...What was life like for you as a young mother in the 1960s?
...What was it like, dealing with a body that betrays you?
...What were your greatest gifts? achievements? disappointments?
...Who are you?
My mom died when I was pregnant with my oldest son, 21 years ago. In my 20's and in the throes of rebellion, then marriage, then pregnancy, I was pretty focused on my own internality and neglected my relationships with other people. And I lived in TX while my parents were in NC. I think it is totally natural to be in that head-space in your 20's. It is a building time, not a reflecting time. I think, though, we are moving into a time where reflection is coming at an earlier age. As a Gen X, I would be characterized as the first latchkey kid (and I was) that would be in charge of my own life. Autonomy and self-reliance.
Guilty as charged!
So in my 20's, I was building a self-reliant life, neglecting my ancestors. And certainly not ever believing that a parent would not be around when I was in my 30s.
But today, I cast my memory back to joyful times. I remember that she is part of my cloud of witnesses, and that she was a complicated woman! Full of self-doubt, but oh so smart! Part of a hierarchical family, but rebelling against it by her achievements and success. And recognition. Teaching her children to be strong in the face of adversity. And to never give up.
And I believe that it is possible to have those conversations that I desire. She is here to experience that. We can talk, dance, laugh, play. It is possible! And in remembering, I can create a new paradigm for our relationship. We are no longer mother/child, although that is still there. But we are woman/woman. Mother/mother. Employee/employee. So much more complicated and complex that we once were.
A simple meditation technique for meeting your ancestor is this:
1. Find something tangible that you can hold or touch that reminds you of your ancestor. For my mom, I would hold some earrings. We had a common love of really big, goofy earrings. I still have some of her earrings around.
2. Have some water around and a cloth. Thirst and tears may come.
3. Sit comfortably, loosely. If it is helpful, set up a candle that you can lightly rest your gaze on. If you don't have a candle, and you want to gaze on something, use a photo or drawing of your loved one, or even a picture of a candle on your computer.
4. Let your inner gaze rise upwards, call to mind the face of your loved one. As you continue to recall your ancestor, issue an internal invitation for their presence. When you see the face, what is their body language? Are they fearful? Joyous? Anxious? How do you want to great them? Do you want to rush forward and hug them? Or hold a hand out for a shake? Or what about a twirl?
5. Be with your loved one. Set a virtual table for two in your imagination. Sit across from one another and be in the presence of love. Now speak your truth.
...I miss you!
...I love you!
...I remember when...!
...What would you tell me now...?
6. When it is time. Let go. Hold your hands together with your ancestor. Bow towards each other and offer respect and love. You could say, "Namaste" or "The Christ in me sees the Christ in you," "Shalom," or "Salaam."
7. Hold yourself still and open for a little while longer. Feel love. Feel love. Feel love.
8. Come back to here. Drink your glass of water. Dry your tears. Feel the joy that comes with being loved and remembering.
Shalom and Amen.