Autumn leaves shuffle, dancing in the little whirlwinds outside of my door. Familiar scratching of dry leaves make me nostalgic for autumns of the east...colored crimson, marigold, maize, and wine.
The last few days as strength has returned to my body I have been listening to the music of these dancing leaves and listening to the coverage of Ramadan in Iraq, Diwali in India, and the beginning of the Halloween/Dia de los Muertos celebrations in the Bay Area and I am sure somewhere south of the border.
I went to the Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Oakland Museum of California yesterday after aching seriously in my bed. I finally motivated at 2:30 pm to handle the aches of my abdomen and to go out into the sunshine, into the autumn, and pay respects to my elders and the youth I know who have died. I don't go to church regularly, the least I could do is participate in a communal celebration.
This year's theme is Laughing Bones, Weeping Hearts. A youth group set up an altar to commemorate those who have been murdered in Oakland this year...we're topping 110 so far. A group set up a pink cross cemetary to the women of Chiapas who have been murdered. The main altar featured the madres, padres, tios, and tias of the organizers. A paper marigold heart was at the center in the back and la Virgen sat atop the front. Candles and incense burners and sugar skulls adorned it.
I have made little altars for myself commemorating symbols of significance to me since I can remember...things I collected like shelves and leaves. Things that have been gifted to me like glass swans and handpainted unicorn figurines.
As I have gotten older I have taken pictures of friends and families, pieces of art, cloth, seeds, shells, boxes, glass...and I have created altars all about my rooms and now my home. My home is historically pretty messy. Piles of clothes and papers, and recycling...just strewn about.
My altars are perfect. They are dusted. They have a distinct geography to them. Plants and pictures. Shells and toys. Symbols of strength and memories and love. All have their place. And should a guest come and move something, I am quick to notice and return the item to its proper place.
I was raised Catholic, so I have known altars since my head was dowsed with water so many years ago. But these altars are symbols of my Self, my community and my connections. I deem them spiritual, but not of any Faith. I have Catholic symbols, Jewish symbols, Islamic, Wiccan, Buddhist, and secular symbols weaving a world of intimacy and meaning for me. Candles are lit on them occasionally for me to reflect on all those who have touched me to make me the woman I am and I think to the woman I want to be.
Many people know me in many different contexts. I am serious. I am vulgar. I am loving. I am silly. I am worrysome. I am solution-oriented. I dance. I am beautiful. I am ugly. I am flying. I am crawling. I am uneducated. I am learned.
There is much convergence in the world. These celebrations honoring light and loved ones and sacrifice...these are things all people can connect with.
My prayer today is that we humans are touched by what connects us, that which is Holy within each of us and that we know Love.