Tuesday, November 1, 2005

All Soul's Day

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Halloween came and went this year on a balmy late fall day--perfect for the hoards of trick-or-treaters who bombard our village. We love the celebration and buy about $100 worth of candy to keep up with the throngs. Our village is the perfect setting for Halloween--houses close together, a safe rural neighborhood, a sufficiently old New England and sometimes creepy atmosphere, and younger neighbors who deck their lawns and porches with all sorts of festive decor. Our daughter now spends time handing out candy on the porch; I was amazed when our two boys wanted to come back after only going door-to-door at half the houses in the village. They wanted to help hand out the candy but also were somewhat worried about their Dad who bravely walked around with us, traversing piles of leaves and unseen potholes with his cane (he is still recovering from his operations).

My birthday weekend was lovely--a visit with friends from England who left on Friday after too short a visit (Rolf and I met at Lincoln College, Oxford in 1979--he hasn't aged a bit! His Bulgarian wife Tsenka fit right in...); lunch with my mother on Friday; a day of facials, pedicures and hair-stuff for Addie and myself on Saturday (in preparation for my friend Diane's wedding on November 4 but also for my birthday--there is nothing more relaxing than a facial although I have to say having a sacral-cranial osteopath caress your skull comes a very close second--thank you Tsenka!); dinner with Temple and the kids at DelRossi's in Dublin on Saturday night; an extra hour of sleep on Saturday night thanks to "Daylight Savings" (Fall Back...Spring ahead); and brunch with Edie and family on Sunday. Just non-stop fun and food.

Sunday morning October 30th, however, was especially memorable. For many reasons I have not been to church in several years. I have missed the ritual, the people, the architecture that is All Saints'. We are now fortunate to have a new vicar and his wife (he is English, she is American--both are ordained Episcopal priests) after a several year search. They have infused the church with their youthful enthusiasm and spirit--and two children, one of whom is Henry's age. Henry is now part of the youth choir (or Treble Choir) and the entire music program is wonderful at All Saints'. Their first performance was on Sunday during the 9am service, traditionally a "family service" and I'd never attended one. Held in the hall across from the church, it is filled with families and children of all ages, the eucharist was assisted by a little boy who couldn't have been more than 3, and there is more informality. However, there was music and spirit and fellowship and it left me with a good feeling. That night there was going to be an All Soul's service where the names of departed loved ones are read aloud during a quiet, meditative service. It was the first time this service has been held at our church. I think it must have been lovely.

My father died three years ago at this time (October 27th). Halloween was his favorite time of year. I think of him every day but especially now, as the days are darkening into the winter days that he loved (he was a hibernator). I have been seeing 11:11 on the clocks again for several weeks. There is a special, private significance to this number in relation to my father's passing. Now I realize I am seeing it again because the closing for the Gray Goose Farm (more about this later) is to be held on November 11. We are subdividing off two acres and the farm house and barns.

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As with my father and other friends and loved ones who have passed on, I will mourn the passing of the farm for many years to come. Even though we are keeping the land, the house is an organic living thing that is being left behind in a several year wake of complications and heartaches and misunderstandings. Houses deserve to be mourned, too, for in them we live our lives and the every day moments--some large but most ordinary--that make us human. But I have learned with great clarity that Thomas Wolfe was right--I set out to prove him wrong but failed miserably: "You can't go home again." You may return in the physical sense, your family may even still live in the home where you grew up, you may even buy or "take over" the place with every intention of living there, but you can never go home in the sense of your past, of your childhood. It isn't there anymore. It is a ghost, an album of memories, drifting around the house, hovering over the present. Sometimes it is just time to move on as "the burden of them is intolerable," to paraphrase from the Common Book of Prayer.

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