Autumn days — with their chilly winds, falling leaves, and stay-at-home desires — invite us to reflect on the passing seasons of living and dying. In Canada we have Remembrance Day on November 11th; for many little more than the obligatory poppy and a statutory day off work. It began as Armistice Day under King George V in 1919 to commemorate the end of World War I and the formal surrender of the Germans in 1918.
The Christian All Souls’ Day on November 2nd was first instituted at the French monastery at Cluny in 993 CE. Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico and other Hispanic nations, arising from Christian and pre-Hispanic native beliefs and traditions. Followers of Wicca, a neo-pagan religion, gather to observe Samhain (pronounced sow-an). Marking the beginning of a new year, it is a time of reflection and celebration — new life is anticipated and the dead are remembered.
As far as I know, there are no specific days to remember the dead in Buddhism. Still, I propose to spend an hour in meditation at Ross Bay Cemetary in Victoria which “has the oldest surviving formal landscape design in BC and is a superb example of a Victorian-era burial ground. Its profusion of unusual trees and plantings, winding carriageways, graves with intriguing … monuments, all bear witness to the people buried here” (http://www.oldcem.bc.ca).
If you’d like to join, please come well prepared for wind and rain and meet on November 11 at 3 pm at the entrance across the street from the Fairfield Shopping Center on Fairfield Road. We’ll take a silent walking tour of select grave markers and, if the weather allows, sit quietly for a while. Bring a folding chair or cushion to sit on, also a cup for hot tea (provided).