There is beauty in the blessing of the simple everyday things, even on passing a graveyard. In his book, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, John O’Donohue encourages us to slow down and discover the sacred in the everyday.
On November 2nd, All Soul’s Day honors the souls of the departed with prayer. In Mexico, November 2nd is also the Day of the Dead, culminating a three-day festival where families will decorate graveyards and honor deceased family members. Mexican celebrations often have a humorous tone as funny anecdotes of the deceased are often told.
Memorial Day (May 30th) in the United States began from the tradition of Decoration Day where families would honor those that died in the Civil War by decorating the graves with flowers and having family picnics at the graveyard. There is a beautiful story of a graveyard in the South where the Southern mothers not only decorated the graves of their Confederate sons, but also decorated the graves of the Union soldiers from the North because they did not know if their mother’s knew where they were. Today, Memorial Day honors Americans who have died in all wars.
For the next time you pass a graveyard, offer this blessing by John O’Donohue:
On Passing a Graveyard
May perpetual light shine upon
The faces of all who rest here.
May the lives they lived
Unfold further in spirit.
May all their past travail
Find ease in the kindness of clay
May the remembering earth
Mind every memory they brought.
May the rains from the heavens
Fall gently upon them.
May the wildflowers and grasses
Whisper their wishes into light.
May we reverence the village of presence
In the stillness of this silent field.
—John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us