The Harvest Moon
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 – 1882
It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!
All things are symbols: the external shows
Of Nature have their image in the mind,
As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,
Only the empty nests are left behind,
And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.
It is that special time of the year when the pause between Autumn and Winter occurs. The three days of Halloween (All Hallows Eve), All Saints Day and All Souls Day that take place from October 31st through November 2nd are filled with a special atmosphere for those who partake in the festivities and solemnities of the three days.
My late Mom and I used this time to combine the various elements into a personal time for seclusion, reflection on mortality and consideration of the life to come. While Mom still lived with me, we would have an evening tea with cups of Darjeeling tea, tea biscuits filled with raisins and citrons by the light of a carved pumpkin with a candle inside. Earlier we’d given out the treat bags filled with pennies and packaged candies to the little costumed children who rang the doorbell. The quiet after sunset and the candle light in the kitchen provided a sense of being between the worlds.
We shared memories of our beloved departed. No photos or keepsakes were brought out, just our words and the events we remembered were shared. The next day we attended mass together before I left for work. We refrained from TV, radio, newspapers and small talk during these three days. None of this is required by the holiday but we willingly undertook abstaining from engagement with the outside as a way to recall as vividly as possible those who have gone on before us to the Greater Life.
I invite you to join me in prayer or in spirit as the time comes, as it does every year, to consider the cycles of life and the seasons of the year beyond what we see and delve into the deeper meanings behind it all.
–EmilyAnn Frances May
All Hallows 2017