This is the time of the year of the harvest’s completion.
The tremendous abundance of the earth has been sown and grown to fruition and, now, has been harvested through the tremendous effort of those who work the harvest.
The harvest isn’t over. There is still plenty of work to be done with the fruits and the land. Throughout nature there is still in this stage of the autumn season such a rich and warm and creative glow to the life-force of things.
But the frosts have come, the trees are letting go of their leaves and starting to retreat into themselves, the days are getting shorter and colder, the seasons of growth and flourishing are coming to a close, for now.
Because of all these changes, as summer is completed and we move toward winter, this season is widely known to be a time of the year to pause and remember our dearly departed.
Many traditions have festivals of the dead at this time. In the Christian world there is All Souls Eve, All Saints, Dia de los Muertos, festivals like these.
For many, this is a time when the realm beyond this earthly realm feels near –
A time when the “veil is thin.”
So this is a good time to pray and settle and to be still,
To feel the subtle presence and to feel the absence of those we love who are no longer with us on this earthly realm.
This is good time to reflect honestly on death and our own mortality.
This is also a good time to save seeds
To find and hold close those good things we have received from those who have passed on before us,
Those kernels of wisdom, those pearls of memories, those potent little seeds of vitality and potential, skills and experiences, revelations and insights that we have received from our loved ones who are now dead.
These seeds are now ours to care for and to plant again when it’s planting time again, to plant for the sake of this generation and for the generations to come.
What are those seeds you hold close from your dearly beloved dearly departed?
When you take some time to be still with the reality of death, can you feel the turning of these giant cycles of birth and life and death and change and transformation?
Can you abide with peace and strength and vitality in knowing that you have your place and your time in the cycles of the cosmos, and the cycles beyond, far beyond the dimensions of our reckoning?
The revelation in Christ of God in the flesh is a revelation that the divine life-giving Power, the great source of the majesty and mystery of creation, shares our common lot, suffers with us, celebrates with us, grieves with us, dies with us, so that we all may be transformed in resurrected life, in the full consummating glory of Creation.
O Holy God,
You, the Source and Center of all Being,
You, O Holy One, are beyond our knowing.
And yet we know that you are with us
Pulsing through the cycles of life and death and life anew,
Here and now, with us, in the midst of your Creation, through us,
And always ever beyond us.
By the movement of your Holy Spirit, O God,
Crack us open like seeds, To new life.
Casting off what is dead,
May the Spirit through us rise and grow and yearn toward the sun of your Glory.
Now we may see through a veil darkly
But we know the time can come when, utterly transformed
we shall encounter You face to face,
With a glory and power and peace that is beyond our imagining.
In your holy name we pray. Amen.
(Delivered Sunday, November 3, 2019, at First Congregational Church of Walla Walla, United Church of Christ, by Rev. Nathaniel Mahlberg)