From The InnkeepersNovember 2023
November 2023 Blog- Some thoughts on Honoring the Ancestors and Living with a Grateful Heart
As I am writing this month’s blog on this the last day of October, we are in the process of being “tricked” rather than “treated”. At this moment, snow is falling quickly and the pumpkins on our front porch are dressed in garments of white flakes about 3 inches high. Now some of you who look forward to winter and winter sports like skiing, snow-showing, skating, or snowmobiling are thinking that my priorities are mis-aligned and this may be one of the best Halloween treats ever. We may never agree on a perspective regarding the white stuff, but one thing I do know is that when there are still leaves on the trees, accumulating snow feels like a sneak attack to me and it becomes a bit of an unwelcome guest. We were not quite done taking down the gardens and preparing the garden beds for the winter season. But thanks to Ryan, we are further along in the process that I normally would be. Normally we are often past the middle of the month before everything is buttoned down. Nonetheless, the first snow could have been polite enough to wait at least about another week or preferably two before showing up at our doorstep in copious quantities.
Enough of my tales of woe regarding the weather, as my real purpose, is to share some thoughts with you about the coming month. The month of November begins with the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and what in Mexico, and Latin American countries is called Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It is a time to remember and honor our ancestors. It is believed that what separates us who are alive and those who have died somewhat dissolves on these days, and we become more accessible to each other. The veil between the worlds gets thinner and the spirit of the ancestors can return to us. In Hispanic Cultures it is common to take food, and wine, and lit candles to the gravesites of friends and relatives to help their spirits find their way back home, even if just for a day or two. I have often thought that these traditions were a beautiful way to say that those whom we loved are forever a part of us, and just because they have died before us, it does not mean that we should disregard their ability to be present to us in a variety of ways. There is a favorite quote from William Kent Krueger that our friend Michelle shared with me one day when she was staying at the Inn. “The dead are never far from us. They are in our minds and in our hearts. And in the end, they are just one breath away-one tiny puff of air.”
So, I invite you to begin this month with taking time to honor your ancestors, in whatever way you are led to do so. For me this honoring begins with a posture of gratitude for them, which is my segue into writing about the latter part of the month of November when we focus on all the traditions and rituals of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The resources on the website www.gratefulness.org help to center me in the practice of gratitude. Saying thank you should not be reduced to a learned response we use when we are given something. The spirit of gratitude really begins with an ability to be aware and pay attention to life around us. To pay attention helps us to make space in our lives for awe. It helps us understand there are tiny miracles that happen endlessly each day with every breath we take and every beat of our heart. I don’t begin to fully understand all the chemical and electrical goings on in my body, but I am grateful every day that that bundle of miracles goes on in me, and miraculously allows me to participate in the gift of life. I don’t understand the intricate life forces and details of what makes our plants grow, but I am in awe that they do it, and in the process of their own becoming I am grateful that they create a beautiful world for us.
At the end of this month many of us will sit around a table and share a meal with one another in gratitude. It should be more than just a result of the traditions that we keep. Gratefulness happens when we see that life is a privilege we have been given. There are many ways to celebrate this holiday, and as with all things, it is what we make of it. The beauty of this day no matter how you celebrate it, is that for one brief moment there is a cultural awareness that we have been blessed. For that I am grateful.
In ending, my gratitude would be incomplete if I did not take time to say thank you to all who have so generously come to be with us here at the Inn. You take time from your busy lives to be part of the fabric of our lives. We take delight in how many of you share with us your experiences and moments of realized beauty when you walk the land. We are grateful for your shared photos of our eagles and swans, and wildflowers and eye- popping sunsets. We are grateful when your eyes light up and you tell us how special this place has become for you over the years. We are grateful for the conversations that we share about what matters to each other, and the insights that we glean which help make our lives more whole. You have enriched our lives more that you can ever know. May gratitude continuously find a dwelling place within us.
With grateful hearts,
Marcia, Pat, Sharon, and Ryan