Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
We have our newest Monk in the World Prayer Cycle video podcasts available for you this week on the principle of meaningful work. Follow the links above for morning and evening prayer.
I am also hosting a book launch tomorrow (October 25th) for my newest book Breath Prayer: An Ancient Practice for the Everyday Sacred. I will be joined by Simon de Voil who will be offering his gift of music and Jamie Marich who will lead us in a short dancing mindfulness practice connected to breath. I will be talking about the roots of breath prayer and leading us in a practice of creating our own breath prayer to draw on throughout the days to come. This is a free event and there will even be a chance to win a space in our Advent companion retreat to the book for those who join us live. If you can’t join live, we will be recording the session.
This is one of my favorite times of year as we approach the Celtic feast of Samhain and All Saints/Souls. Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year. The Celts divided the year into two seasons: the season of light and the season of dark. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began the previous night. In the silence of darkness comes the whisperings of new beginnings.
Two significant features of this feast are the beginning of the season of darkness and the honoring of ancestors. Crossing the threshold means welcoming in the dark as a time of becoming more closely woven with the spiritual dimension of life. Winter invites us to gather inside, grow still with the landscape, and listen for the voices we may not hear during other times of year. These may be the sounds of our own inner wisdom or the voices of those who came before us.
The Celtic feast coincides with the Christian celebration of All Saint’s Day on November 1st and All Soul’s Day on November 2nd which begin a whole month in honor of those who have died. We tend to neglect our ancestral heritage in our culture, but in other cultures remembering the ancestors is an intuitive and essential way of beginning anything new. We don’t recognize the tremendous wisdom we can draw upon from those who have traveled the journey before us and whose DNA we carry in every fiber of our bodies. We carry not just their wounds but also their resilience and courage as well.
This is one of my favorite times of year with the darkening days of autumn and the spreading color across the trees. I have long loved the wisdom of the Celtic Wheel of the Year, but living here in Ireland I experience the turning points more keenly.
In the ancient Celtic imagination, this was considered to be a “thin time” when the veil between heaven and earth grew more transparent and the wisdom of our ancestors was closer to us. We are reassured that we are not alone, that we share the world with a great “cloud of witnesses” and “communion of saints” just across the veil. This season is a threshold space and in thresholds we are closer to the other world which is always here. The communal honoring of the dead continues for the whole month of November.
We have three ways to support you in deepening into this season: Yoga with Melinda: Samhain, a mini-retreat with Christine on Writing with the Ancestors, and a Contemplative Prayer Service with Christine and Simon. We hope you will join us for one or all of these programs as a way of receiving the love of thousands who stand beyond the veil.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE