Collective Autumn Triduum Vigil
It is the third day of the Autumn Triduum, November 2, All Souls’ Day. Over the past two days we have stayed close to the invitation from Cynthia Bourgeault to taste that in ourselves which already lies beyond death, deepening an awareness and connection to that ‘little kernel of gold which is the essence of you, that will not be destroyed. Yesterday, amidst these three days in which the veil is thin we leaned into the ever present reciprocal relationship with those saints and spiritual ancestors who are no longer in physical bodies.
Having lingered in the presence, support and guidance received of these relationships, today we now extend a similar invitation to honor, grieve and celebrate all of our specific ancestors and close ones who are no longer with us in physical form. These ancestors may not necessarily be in your blood lineage but can be chosen or who have chosen you and close ones don’t have to be human, they can include animals, trees, etc. Today we also ready ourselves to go on living more skillfully from that which already lies beyond death within us co-present with that which doesn’t. We can do this by focusing on being a good ancestor now—doing our part to heal/whole the past and make way for the future—for those who have gone before and those who are to come.
If you are new to this practice, a breath prayer is simply a prayer that you pair with your natural breathing and is something you can do all day. It is meant to give your mind something to focus on, a feeling in connection to the words to arise, and a cellular knowing to take place in your body the more you breath it. Try these words, or make them your own by changing them to fit for you. If you change it, you will want to keep the prayer to around seven syllables so that it can easily pair with your breath.
Today try breathing in, saying inwardly “help me live now,” and breathing out, saying inwardly “from death beyond.”
From Cynthia Bourgeault: “As the English mystic Charles Williams once famously remarked, we may not yet be able to live for others, but we indisputably live from others. From birth to death our life is embedded in a womb of relationships that sustain and support us: not only our parents who gave us birth, but the systems that deliver our food, educate us, create our jobs, keep the streets plowed, manage our investments. Beyond these social systems there are the natural systems as well: the ground where our food grows, the sun and the rain on which all life depends. Everything here has been recycled from some earlier physical configuration. “Even the cells of your body are made of stardust,” the popular truism correctly points out.
When we take these relationships for granted, as most of us do, we tend to live out of a sense of entitlement and privilege. When we open our eyes to the interconnectedness, entitlement begins to give way to co-responsibility.”
From Barbara Holmes in Crisis Contemplation: “A world without ancestors is lonely. I am so grateful for the elders in my family who introduced me to the continuums in life. It matters how we understand our sojourn in this reality. If we consider our lives to be comprised of segments separated by a dash that encompasses birth and death dates, we will be inconsolable when trauma truncates our realities and delays our destinations. But, if we consider ourselves to be part of a continuum of life that does not end with death, but transitions to a life after life, our perspectives can change.
The community of the ancestors, already inhabiting the life beyond life, kept in constant contact with us. They sent messages and intervened when necessary. They prayed with me and whispered warnings. . . . Whether we call them ancestors or elders, only those women and men who led good lives in the physical realm are considered to be wise guides in the spiritual realm. In some African cultures, they are called elders, “the old ones.” Any elder represents the entire legal and mystical authority of the lineage. For me, ancestors, living and dead elders, commanded my respect and were always present, abiding and guiding me.”
For Those Who Walked With Us by Jan Richardson
who walked with us,
this is a prayer.
who have gone ahead,
this is a blessing.
who touched and tended us,
who lingered with us
while they lived,
this is a thanksgiving.
who journey still with us
in the shadows of awareness,
in the crevices of memory,
in the landscape of our dreams,
this is a benediction.
Questions for Pondering
On this Feast of All Souls, what good ancestor (remembering ancestors are not necessarily in your blood lineage but can be chosen or who have chosen you and don’t have to be human) has contributed in some way to your becoming either physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually? What can you learn from this ancestor? What blessing, inspiration, guidance, and/or vivifying force can you receive? How might you honor them today? What is one way you might be being invited into in order to be a good ancestor doing your part to heal/whole the past and make way for the future? How might you stay consciously connected to this invitation as you head into the holiday season?
A blessed triduum passageway to you,