Our local art museum invited the general community to a celebration of Dia de los Muertos. I have been fascinated with this celebration of the dead since I was in high school. It is such a frank acknowledgement that death is a part of life, and reflects a choice to honor the spirits of our loved ones in a way that makes them present among us. There have been multiple stories on the radio recently about the Hindu holiday of Diwali–the festival of lights.
At first glance, a Latino celebration and a Hindu celebration may not seem to have much in common. But these celebrations have reminded me how very important it is to remember that the darkness in our life is. Without darkness, we don’t notice the light. Without remembering that our lives will someday end, we are at risk of taking them for granted. Celebrations like this invite us to rethink our American avoidance of death and darkness.
This mental re-examination seems especially appropriate during the first weekend after the end of Daylight Savings Time–when we are all dealing with earlier dark.
I often encourage people to think about end of life–to talk with family and friends about the plans that they have. In my office, I sit with clients when they deal with the darkness that has touched their lives. Sometimes, it can feel like the darkness is overwhelming the light. Sometimes our fear of dying makes it hard to focus on living.
But both of these festivals remind us that the darkness and death are parts of our life. We will experience pain and fear. We get to decide whether those moments remind us to cherish the joy and connection, or cut us off from them.
Light and dark are both real. Which one will you choose to focus on?