Webs and Wind

“I am trying to remember you and let you go at the same time.”

-Nayyirah Waheed

“I am a living member of the great family of all souls.”

-the Rev. William Ellery Channing (1780 – 1842, Unitarian)

The past few weeks, I’ve been watching a brownish-orange spider weaving a new web between the posts on my front porch daily, her thick body at least the size of my thumb nail.  Today, as I was putting out fake spiders on the fake cobwebs on my bushes, she seemed to be gone. Still, it’s a spidery time of year.

It’s also a blustery time of year. The past few days, my front door has blown open a few times… making me think that someone was coming into the house. No wonder it is said that late October is when the “veil between the worlds is thin.”

This Sunday is Halloween/ Hallow’s Eve/ Samhain, and it is also the Sunday when we observe our annual All Souls service – a service where we remember our ancestors and those close to us who’ve died, particularly those who’ve died in the past year. While there is sadness in it, there is also affirmation that our loved ones lived and loved, that they offered gifts to the world and made lasting impressions, that we are still connected to them and they to us- and that we each exist in far-reaching, somewhat invisible webs of connection and community. In this way, we celebrate love and connection, remember many with true fondness, make space for our grief and even face our own mortality within a circle of support, gentle music and meaning.

If you attend the service in person, you are welcome to bring photographs of your ancestors or beloved dead to put on the windowsills, where there will also be photographs of past North Parish members and votive candles to light.  There will also be a time in the service to come forward to a microphone if you wish, to share a name and to share a gift your person brought to the world or something that they deeply loved.  (We’ll ask folks to walk up the side aisles to the microphones and then back down the middle aisle to your seats, so no one has to pass each other.)

If you are attending the service via Zoom, I encourage you to set up a little “altar” or remembrance spot somewhere in your home or next to your computer screen. You will be invited to write names and a gift or love that your person/people brought into the world in the Chat.  You can also send your names and what you want to share to me in an email so I can share them verbally on Sunday; this applies to those attending in person as well.

I am glad that we have rituals like All Souls, especially in the wake of a pandemic and the deaths of several beloved members this past year. I am glad, too, that we have fun traditions like the Junior Youth movie fundraiser for Neighbors in Need- a good cause effort that I hope many will join. In congregational life, grief, love, gratitude, fun and giving are all interwoven together.

Yours, in spider webs and windy gusts,

Rev. Lee