Did you realize that this is an Election Year? If you haven’t done so yet, (I’m a purist, I wait for the actual day) do your civic duty and vote.
Recently, a friend on Facebook asked if any- one remembered a poem they had memo- rized. I did. It was written by a man by the name of Gerard Manley Hopkins. He was a Jesuit priest who wrote some of the most stirring poetry I have ever read. It is called Spring and Fall: to a Young Child.
Margaret, are you grieving Over Goldengrove unleaving.
Leaves, like the things of man, you With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, Child, the name Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind expressed What heart heard of, ghost guessed;
It is the blight man was born for, It is Margaret you mourn for.
The basic plot is simple. A young girl is watching the leaves die in the fall. Their death makes her sad. And her grief is based on the fact that the autumn reminds us of our own death. It’s not a particularly sunny thought, but it is something that the Church calls us to reflect upon on the feast of All
Souls. As we pray for the dead, we reflect upon our own dying, after all, we are all ter- minal cases. As I used to tell my students when I taught a death and dying class: no- body gets out of here alive.
The lessons and the tone of All Souls Day is decidedly somber, there is no way around it. Death is still a fearful and horrible thing. But All Souls Day is meaningless without hope. Hope in God, hope in eternal life. It is a hope which is extended to us in the now as well. Our death reminds us to live well now. To not let chances pass us by. To rejoice. To love. To live. And though we walk through worlds of leafmeal wanwood, and we recall the blight of death. We also rejoice and stand firm.
Margaret, are you grieving? Yes, but I am also trusting.