This time of year, my local library and museum host sugar skull making events and other “Day of the Dead” programs. If you’re unfamiliar with this holiday you might think it sounds spooky—kind of hooked to Halloween in some way. But, it isn’t meant to be scary at all. More of a cultural holiday than a religious one, beginning in central and southern Mexico, November 2nd is a day set aside for remembering family members who have died.
The colorful, much anticipated, day of the dead parties include setting up altars in people’s homes in honor of the deceased. The altars are decked out with fragrant offerings, such as marigolds and incense, as well as favorite food items family members used to enjoy. All of these efforts are so the spirits of loved ones can “find their way home” for a day of visiting.
OK, lure our dead loved ones back for a day?! This cultural tradition might sound a little odd to you. I know I felt that way when I first learned of el día de los muertos in a Spanish language class I took. Although I don’t see eye to eye with the details of this celebration day, I do think we all have a desire to feel connected with those we’ve loved.
In the study of Christian Science, I’ve learned that the connection we have with others is never an act of spiritualism—calling on ghosts or spirits. It’s actually our understanding of God as divine and infinite Spirit, and His creation—which includes all of us through eternity as completely spiritual—that gives us the best view of how we are all connected.
Since God is Spirit, and He fills all space, the spiritual identity of everyone is held securely and eternally in God. You could say, since the infinite has no edges, no beginnings, no endings, that we are all in the same infinite space. We are all together because none of us can ever be outside of infinite Spirit. We all “live, and move, and have our being” in God. (See Acts, chapter 17.)
The Psalmist must have thought about this, too when he wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7). If our loved ones are always with God, and we are, too, it follows, that we are together now and through eternity.
So, what exactly are we connected with? We aren’t connected with our loved ones on a material level. We can’t hear them, or see them. But, we can feel this connection through our spiritual sense—the feeling of comfort, peace, and joy that come to us when we remember the lasting things we appreciate about our loves ones. Things like kindness, generosity, intelligence, wisdom, goodness, and so on, are actually the spiritual qualities that make up their eternal and spiritual identity. When we recognize these qualities expressed in ourselves and others, we can feel that divine connection that never fades.
Mary Baker Eddy describes the connection we have with others this way, “Where God is we can meet, and where God is we can never part” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 131).
So, you don’t need to make any sugar skulls or construct any altars to stay connected with your loved ones. You’re already connected, because their spiritual qualities and yours all have the same source—divine Spirit, where we all reside.
I hope these insights will inspire readers to think more spiritually about themselves and the world around them!