Saturday, September 3, 2011

Remembering Loved Ones On All Soul's Day

First Recall

What usually comes into our minds when the month of November in the Philippines is approaching? Is it the long holidays? Travel? Family reunions? Or the memories of our departed love ones? All Saints Day celebrated every 1st of November and All Souls' Day a day after.

In this fast and 'instant' age where internet, communication gadgets and various events from the past month compete with our attention with family traditions and events, remembering our loved ones in the cemetery or memorial parks seemed quite a challenge nowadays. It really takes our precious time to spend in the place where the departed are laid to rest. More if your current location is far from where there are buried. It's either boring or time-consuming.

A Different Get-Together

Yesterday, November 1, All Saints Day my husband's immediate family members headed by my mother-in-law and siblings led the preparation in visiting her departed husband, their brother, nephew, grandmother, mother and even cousin-in-law all in one place which looked like a garden from a distance. We went there before lunch and from then on relatives begin to arrive and an instant reunion took place. Not to mention computer games and indoor games co-existed in the said event for the dead. Ironically in my mind there is not a bit of excitement staying in the cemetery. Worst, I am not in favor of staying even there for a short while in a place surrounded by tombs and graves.

Out of the laughter and the usual greetings, chats and updating of what's going on in the family affairs, I was tasked to take pictures of each love ones' tombs. I find it quite morbid and melancholic as I am used to taking lively and colorful photos before.

Bring to Mind Love Ones Who Went Ahead

Never did I realize that there was a deeper reason to be more than just taking pictures of tombstones. It's made me remember that these people once roamed the place where I am standing and now they're at least six feet below the ground locked in a cold and lonely cemented box. It is morbid to think about tombs anyway. But beyond the melancholy of it all, it made me think and remember that the very reason most of the people who are visiting the dead are not just there to pay a visit but it is a way of expressing their love despite of the reality that the very people they come to visit cannot and will not be able to interact and exchange greetings with them anymore. Such unconditional love that brings them back to visit their departed love ones, exerting efforts to even clean the tomb's surrounding even if the grass are more than six feet tall. Still the effort to beautify the place and even put flowers is there. That is on top of the usual scheduled family get together.

I passed by a lonely looking tomb without any usual decorations but a certain old woman sat and quietly stayed beside the grave. I don't know what was she thinking or contemplating but what I've understood was her act of love was louder more than any words she might have spoken from a distance. Something touched my heart witnessing the old woman sat beside her love ones' grave.

Insensitive To Remember

How insensitive I was. I even forget the memory of my own departed family members even. Was so selfish to think more of the convenience compared to even spare some time this time thinking and reminiscing how they loved and took care of me. I asked myself, what if I am in this place now. How will my children remember me at this time of the year? Will they have the time to recall or even visit my place of rest?

A radical person like me sometimes need to be reminded that there is a need to be deep-seated with family values especially in calling to mind people who were part of my life and who were instrumental in making who I am now. Honoring our departed loved ones is something that I need to teach my children as well. But what can I give if I don't have that mind set of remembering the people who went ahead of us? Remembering our loved ones is not only just remembering but it is a way to honor them.

After the quick self-assessment, I thank God for his love is everlasting...He gave me the opportunity to reset my mind set on the issue on remembering family members and friends who were once a blessing to me. How ungrateful I am, I realized. But thanks be to God, I was given another chance to change the way I think.

Choose To Honor

For this two-day experience of mine immersed in a place called cemetery, it did not only reminded me of the need to be grateful and thoughtful but was able to improve my selflessness attitude which is an essential of true love.

And most of all, was able to come across with the recollection of God's great love in unselfishly giving His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die for me in the cross and gave me another chance to live a life full of blessings and unmerited favor. That I was once 'dead' spiritually and separated from His grace. That I was no different from the very departed loved ones but because of His love, God remembered me even before I came to this world.

Remembering to honor is respect. He's love for us and the need for us to love is worth remembering, day after day in our lives.

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