I couldn’t resist. More than just blogging to express myself, I want to keep track of what I’m learning somewhere besides in notebooks and journals that end up scattered around my house and car with handwriting not often legible.
Today I went to Ridgeway High School, a county school here in Memphis, where I’m doing a practicum for graduate school. Yes, amongst other things I’m trying to become a high school Spanish teacher. So I went to observe a teacher in classroom management… what day better than Halloween to do a behavioral observation! There’s quite a bit to manage in the class.. if students aren’t texting they insist on keeping their hoods up and listening to music (it is pretty cold in those classrooms…) Haha I was amused. Of course I took note of the procedural enforcement and clear instructions the teacher gave, but also I got to revisit some culture that I had forgotten.
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS
The teacher I observed is from California but is of Mexican descent. He began the lesson by challenging the students to think about Halloween. “Why do you celebrate it? I know you get candy and dress up in costumes, but is there more to it?” Most of the students couldn’t think of a deeper meaning. He went on to explain how he believes his Mexican culture does a better job of connecting to why they traditionally celebrate a similar holiday. All Hallows Eve is November 1, the day before All Saints Day, November 2. They can be compared with Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. It was meant to be a day to celebrate and remember those who have died, or, from a believer’s perspective, remember the Saints who led faithful lives on Earth. So why the costumes? Why dress up like creepy skeletons and zombies? Should we make light of such a dark thing, isn’t it a touchy subject? That seems a little out there. Maybe we should just stick to the American way and dress up like our favorite sitcom star or Elsa from Frozen and collect candy from strangers. But maybe Día de los Muertos isn’t so creepy after all. Maybe everyone together acknowledging that life AND death are in fact reality is a good exercise, a good wake up call. According to the lesson, the Central American expression of this holiday is to ridicule and make fun of the power of death. “Death is just another beginning to a new stage of our beautiful existence.” (I’m not exactly sure about the Aztec afterlife beliefs but this applies to my religion ha) Yes, people! The best is yet to come. Why should we be afraid? I can’t help but remember my dear friend Ben Farley on this day. What a saint!! I know know know that he is FAR better off now than when he was here, sick as a dog for the past two years, although he managed to carry cancer around like just one extra thing going on that shouldn’t affect his way of being or relationships. That’s the thing about God. Everything is not as it seems. Shouldn’t we be afraid of death? Shouldn’t we fear cancer and aren’t we entitled to complain about every unfortunate circumstance? I’m remembering my friend Ben today and how he wasn’t afraid. How he lived on purpose knowing full well that God was taking care of him, increasingly exuding peace and confidence in Jesus all the way to the end. We can have hope when having hope doesn’t seem to make sense. When our cup is empty, He fills it… even when we don’t ask. I remember Ben and can’t believe he’s really gone. And that we’re all still here. Did his life really come and go that quick? What a powerful, meaningful existence! I can’t help but be inspired and encouraged by his intentionality and love for people. I want that to be what my life is about, but many times I feel not so equipped. The word longing has been a theme lately… longing for direction, longing to hear that still small voice, longing for whatever it may be on a given day. We are all longing for something we won’t encounter fully until we meet Jesus. In this hope we are saved. St. Augustine said that God allows us to long to extend our soul, so that it can be filled even more! Amen and Amen. Let us remember today those who lived like they were Loved, and go on with life filled and unafraid! Happy Halloween!