“And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.”
~ John 6:39
In our Christian tradition the past three days are actually a triduum, celebrating the Communion of Saints that we profess in the Creed. It is composed of Hallow Evening (Halloween), Hallows (Saints) Day, All Souls Day. Halloween is for those of us still here on earth, opening ourselves to remembering and commemorating those who have gone ahead of us. All Saints Day is remembering and celebrating those of us who are now enjoying the joys of heaven. All Souls Day is for remembering those of us who are still making up for earthly shortcomings in Purgatory. We all belong to the Communion of Saints through our Baptism.
In our old hometown in Pampanga, these days are as hallowed as Christmas itself, sometimes even more so. You can be excused for not coming home for Christmas but there is no excuse possible for not coming home for daun, which literally means offering. We remember our dead by making an offering of prayers and time. Like Christmas, it is a time for coming home and homecomings, family gatherings and, of course, feasting.
I see this Triduum as a portal in time where the past, the present and the future converge in an eternal now. Our thoughts naturally turn to death. In temperate countries, this is the time of the year when fall is well under way but the snow has not fallen not yet. The harvest has been brought in and people are preparing for the death of winter. It is time to celebrate the harvest but also to prepare for the cold wintry months ahead. This portal in time allows us to pierce the veil that separates our material world with the afterlife. It is a reminder that there is still to our story after and beyond death.
Even as I think of death, I cannot but help also think of heaven. I think of it as a banquet, a celebration, a coming together with people I love and who love me. There is no image more poignant than this:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.