Thursday, November 02, 2006

Día de los Difuntos

Today is All Soul’s Day. Here in Panamá the schools are closed, government offices will close at noon, and the cemeteries will be filled with families decorating graves and remembering those who have gone on before us. I see All Soul’s Day as an extension of All Saint’s Day. I guess we must have two separate days because, although all Christians are saints, some saints are holier than others, and some folks are uncomfortable honoring folks like Perpetua and Felicitas AND their uncle Fred on the same day. At the Holy Eucharist this morning I read the list of the Faithful Departed. I started the list when I first came to San Cristóbal and we add to it every year. This year we had 654 names! I lived in Okinawa until I was sixteen, where the Cult of the Ancestors is an important aspect of the culture. This morning, while reading the names aloud, I thought of the family altars in the homes in Okinawa which contain a plaque with all the names of the ancestors of the family. Before I read the list I always ask the congregation, when hearing the name of a family member or friend read aloud, to reflect on how that person influenced them in their spiritual life. We’ve had a tough time in our family this year, with the loss Annie’s twins and the loss of my nephew Daniel to a brain tumor, and it hurt to add their names to the list, but I take comfort in knowing that they, too, have joined that Great Cloud of Witnesses.

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