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I sit in my wing-back chair, the Jerusalem Bible open upon my lap.

Earlier, I shuddered with media reports of Russians firing long range missiles at Kyiv, Karkiv, and Mariupol and more killing of civilians; with phone conversations blistering the wires between France’s Macron and Putin and between Biden and Xi Jinping.

Still another day of Russian mind control: the existence of biolabs and Nazis in Ukraine that justifies their aggression.

Yet, another day of Ukrainian resistance remains in place, with its demands for security guarantees from Russia, should it not join NATO.

Such terror-rhetoric glistens with menace, its intent to foist global panic: Ukrainians’ devastation could become the lot of other nations, including our own.

Such issues scathe my depths like zillions of flashing daggers. If unaddressed, psychic dismemberment occurs. I choose not to go there.

Instead, I enter within the psalmist’s imperative, Seek his face (27:8)—a redirection toward Spirit where, alone, faith stirs and stretches tall.

Like gardeners harvesting seeds of spent flowers, I collect my scattered energies and focus upon the present moment in which the face of God abounds. Today, I pray to be teachable, to live with events, terrifying and unpredictable as they unfold, fraught by Evil’s illusion.

We’re in good hands and always have been.

Groups of ghouls, pint-sized pumpkins, princesses, skeletons, and werewolves scan porch lights for treats while moms and dads, with flashlights, watch from sidewalks. Jack-o-lanterns leer into the night, strings of orange lights pierce the gloom, and chilled winds whip banners of witches riding craggy broomsticks. Neighbors’ brazier fires create oases of light, cauldrons hold treats for the costumed, and merriment escalates with the encroaching darkness—and it’s very dark.

Again, it’s Halloween, its hilarity, a distraction from the shivers of winter’s onset. Yet, few know of its ancient origins, even its date, October 31st.

Bands of roving Celtic families, primarily located in the insular countries of Ireland and Britain, depended upon Druidic priests for their spiritual guidance. The resulting rich oral tradition—all committed to memory—included the October 31st observance of Samhain, the Celtic New Year. 

Gigantic sacred bonfires, aflame through the night, signaled the holiday’s beginning. Because the protective barrier to the Other World, the realm of dead and evil spirits, was thin, the Celts donned disguises to conceal their identities. Spirit-crossovers and prognostications intended for the Druids also occurred.

Because the harvest had been completed, the Celts selected choice produce and animals from their fields to sacrifice to the gods, in thanksgiving as Druid stories and other rituals filled the night. A take-home gift from the bonfire was the new flame, to cook and warm their huts until the next New year. That was over two thousand years ago.

The Christianization of these lands brought make-overs, rather than change. In 609 CE, Pope Gregory III reconstituted the observance of Samhain into three parts: All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31st; All Saints Day on November 1st; and All Soul Day on November 2nd. The Celts’ spirituality was easily amenable to this adjustment. 

With them, we hold fast to the light of faith, illumining winter’s darkness: it will pass.

As death … is the true goal of our existence, I have formed a close relationship with the best and truest friend of mankind: Death’s image is no longer terrifying but soothing and consoling. So wrote Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to his father in 1788 when exhausted with chronic illness and tormented by fears of having been poisoned.

In my perception, Mozart endured a conflicted life: the compulsion to explore and amplify the then known genres of classical music and create his own—he composed six hundred pieces, still enjoyed today—with the limits of his slight body, dead at thirty-five.

As others had composed Requiems, dating from the beginnings of the Christian Mass, and as Mozart awoke to his mortality, his passion to compose his own Requiem consumed him. But the work only began in 1791, the year of his death. Completed were the Introit, Kyrie, and the first eight bars of Lacrimosa, tears that shagged my own, as found within the sequence, Dies irai, all in the key of D minor, symbolic of music of the afterlife.

Assembling Mozart’s drafts of the other six parts awaited another’s hand, composer Franz Xavier Sussmayr.

For those who grieve—and they’re everywhere—there is balm in Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, K. 626 (1791). His psyche experienced the full majesty of God’s mercy and gave expression, symphonically and chorally, to this phenomenon. We’ve only to listen with humble hearts and rejoice and be renewed. There is another way to view life’s hardships.

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