What’s Samhain?

Jim Harney_1You can never exactly tell what you are going to get when you show up at a Unitarian Universalist church. This past Sunday was the annual Samhain celebration at Theodore Parker Church.

The Parent Imperfect was supposed to be shifting the 7-8 grade religious group to another venue while the younger kids came together in a circle to talk about Halloween symbols and where they come from. Imperfect to a fault, the PI arrived late, and the big kids were already part of the circle, with Connie dressed as a fortune teller and Vincent as a pre-adolescent.

A fortune teller? What happened to the Mad Scientist, you ask? In truth, Ms. C. was a fortune teller’s assistant. They faithful had recruited her mother to tell fortunes at the party after the service.

And so the PI joined the circle, too, in the least amusing costume of all. Most of the parents had at least done something to look silly.

For 45 minutes, everyone talked about the origins of Halloween in the ancient pagan sense that this was the time of year when the “veil” between the living and those who have passed becomes thinnest. It is the time when the connection between the two worlds is closest.

The circle embraced north, south, east and west and raised up the uniqueness of each. Children, including the fortune teller, shared short readings about each direction. Fire was lit, incense filled the air, chants echoed and tunes carried, sort of. 

Who were the witches?

Who were the witches? Where did they come from? Maybe your great, great grandmother was one. Witches were wise, wise women they say, And there’s a little witch in every woman today!

“Old Monsignor Flanagan must be rolling around behind his own veil,” thought the PI, wondering what they would have said about all of this at St. Francis de Sales.

With the stories of Halloween symbols fresh in their minds, the time came for children to bring forth photos and memories of those on the veil’s other side. Children who usually can’t sit still for five minutes sat and listened as the stories came forth…slowly. 

Having brought nothing, the PI wished he had some remembrance of Jim Harney, a friend of his who passed at the end of last year. The spirit didn’t move him, but as the stories ended, the fortune teller sat up.

“I didn’t bring a picture, but I wanted to remember Jim Harney. He was a friend of my father’s who travelled a lot and did things for people, and he died last year.”

Tears came with the last words, at least from two of the four directions.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “What’s Samhain?

  1. Serena

    Hi Kevin,
    This is just so poignant! Thanks! Serena

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