At the waning of the year November comes dark and somber. The days shorten, and the nights grow long. All the abundance and richness of Autumn are stored in our barns. The fields lie bare, and the trees stand skeletal and gaunt against a bleak sky. The wintry rain spills down and at times floods the earth. The days grow colder, and the hills are wrapped in a lonely hue. With the falling leaves we remember the Holy Souls – those who toiled amongst us and whom we reluctantly let go, wondering how we would endure without them. We realize too that in the not too distant future we too will be remembered in the same way.
In today’s world we don’t feel comfortable thinking or talking about our own death. We try not to articulate the word death at all. When someone dies we say she or he has “passed away.” And for a moment we may wonder where she or he has gone. But we know in our hearts that our loved one has died. For her or him life has changed and is not taken away. The physical body has completed its purpose on earth. The spiritual soul has gone to an eternal resting place "which eye hasn’t seen nor ear heard nor has it entered into the mind to understand what God has in store for the one who believes in Him."
How engrossed we can become at times with reading articles and advertisements on television and online which lures us into thinking that we can look and feel younger! How many lotions do we buy in the vain hope of thinking our wrinkles will smooth out or a facelift will enhance our craggy facial expression? We are encouraged to nourish our bodies and overcome our aging process. The intention is to pretend that we will live longer.
But November cries “STOP.” This month is a precious gift, a time of grace. It’s an opportunity to turn from passing things and to open our hearts as we remember that the only thing we are sure of is that we will die. It is a somber thought, and for some it may be frightening. But there is no need to fear. We will return to our loving Father who has taken care of us all through our lives.
How radical is the Way of Jesus! He showed us that the way to God is to embrace our humanity with all its fragility and vulnerability. November is a very sacred month. It brings us an abundance of spiritual energies and meaning. It reminds us not to fear the winter season as spring will soon follow. It helps us to cast away our blindness and doubt. On the Cross Jesus said to the man dying beside Him, “This day you are with me in Paradise.”
“This is My gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” So, in peace let us embrace the grace of November and await our death and Resurrection.
Sr. Abbie O’Sullivan lives and works in Ireland.