As noted in the previous blog post, this past weekend, the end of October, was the time of the ancient celebration of Samhain (pronounced “Sah-win”), observed by Pagans and others around the world. Samhain is the root of our modern religious celebration of All Saints Day, and the secular holiday of Halloween. It marks the end of the harvest and the start of the coldest half of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere), and some consider it to be a “spiritual new year”.
In addition, because it is believed that Samhain is when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest, at this time we also honor and remember our departed ancestors. But not only that. As I explained in my sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Franklin NH last Sunday, we can also connect directly with them, with their spirit, because the love we have with them keeps their spirit close by when we call upon them.
This is not just my belief, it’s also the EXPERIENCE I’ve had with my Dad, over the past 30 years since he died. I wanted so much to stay connected with him, but didn’t quite know how. Then, a wise healer came along and taught me a fairly simple technique: starting with a photograph of my father and some deep breaths to quiet my mind. From there, I begin to get a strong visual image of him inside me, see him in my mind, greet him, and then invite him to be with me. Then, I wait until I feel his presence. And I do. Then, I just talk with him, normally. Then…and this is the key – stop, and listen. I listen for a response, and he does respond. Now I don’t always hear his actual voice; it’s often more like images that are auditory, as if the deepest part of me were a microphone. This technique really works. He and I converse quite a bit this way. He’s become my main spirit guide, and has helped me so much over the years.
I ask him a lot of questions, about whatever is going on – about relationships, work, home, etc. What should I do about this, Dad? And he tells me. He’s not shy. He may be in spirit form now, but his earthly personality is still there. And he is wise. I recognize his wisdom as partly from his earthly personality and experience, and partly insights from beyond this earth. Great wisdom, though, truth be told, I don’t always follow it, but that’s another story….
There are so many channels of connection with those on the other side of the veil. One very unique channel, in Japan, involves, literally, phoning departed loved ones. The public radio program “This American Life”, recently shared this story of an old Japanese man, Itaru, whose cousin died several years ago. He wanted so much to talk with his cousin, so he bought an old-fashioned phone booth, stuck it in his garden, on a windy hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and put inside the booth a black rotary phone, that, electronically, didn’t work at all.
That didn’t matter to Itaru though. He just wanted to talk to his cousin. He said that because his thoughts could not be relayed over a regular phone line, he wanted them to be carried on the wind. So he named it the wind telephone– kaze no denwa. But the truly amazing part is that, about a year later, in 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. Many homes and whole villages were wiped out, and thousands were killed. Shortly afterwards, word got out about Itaru’s special wind telephone to stay connected to the dead. Soon, people started showing up randomly on his property, and walking right into the phone booth, and using the phone to talk to their loved ones.
For over 5 years now, thousands of people have come from all over Japan to use his phone. Incredibly, A TV network got permission to video and record their calls, from a distance. You can hear those calls, and their translation, at this link: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/597/one-last-thing-before-i-go?act=1 The segment is entitled, “Really Long Distance”. It’s very moving.
Especially in this time of Samhain, but really any day of the year, if we are willing to pierce the veil and engage with our whole being – our whole heart, soul, and mind – we can connect with our loved ones. Whether on an ocean hilltop in Japan or anywhere else, I invite you to consider that our love can pierce the veil. May you always stay close to those who have gone, because they are just a heartbeat away…or even, perhaps, just a phone call away.