This is the season of Samhain, and the time where time catches up to us. The northern hemisphere grows dark, and with it come thoughts of ancestors and traditions. When you reap the crop from the field, you must select some of the healthiest, most hardy seed to set aside for the spring; you must consider the past in light of the present in order to ensure a healthy future. Let us be grateful for all that we have inherited, and be intentional in what we set aside for our posterity.
Our lives are constantly reaping from the past sown both for us and by us. Each of us is a collection of collections. We are made of the stuff of stars, passed through volcanoes and rivers to plants and animals, down to our ancestors to form us. We think thoughts in words created hundreds of years ago alongside ideas that are younger than our bodies. Our sense of self is rooted in a culture that dates back thousands of years. We are what we are because of an amazing chain of events, and we owe it to the past to be gracious and to be humble, while still adapting and growing.
Unitarian Universalism makes one promise about life and death: one day you will move from one to the other.
We do not claim special knowledge about what comes after, though many of us believe things based on our own perceptions or deductions. We do not teach that there is an afterlife, or that there is not one, but only that it makes little sense to spend this life planning for what we cannot promise. Your life will end, and you should live it knowing that what you do now, in this world, can matter. It can matter more (or less) than you ever imagined, so make sure that you do what you believe to be best.
The lives of those you love will end, too, and you cannot guess when, so love them deeply and intentionally. Love them and cherish what they have to share.
The lives of those you dislike will also end, so do not dwell unduly on the trouble they cause when you have the choice to avoid it. Do your good, and teach people what you have to share, and history will choose which of you to follow, as it always has. We owe it to the future to express the best in ourselves to serve as an example.
To learn more about Samhain, the traditional Celtic end-of-summer observance, and how it is viewed today, we offer these links from a variety of sources: