Halloween fun but also a time to think about challenges as individuals and society
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There are many concerns that human beings share across traditions and expressions of belief.
This weekend’s Halloween celebrations remind us of the universal experience of death and the rituals people have been shaping for millennia.
We need ways to remember those we have loved and lost. Societies find ways to connect with those who have gone before us. Folk come together to share stories and memories, with laughter a powerful part of storytelling and facing our fears.
In Halloween we find Christian marking of All Hallows or All Saints overlapping with Pagan Samhain. In Moray, Halloween will be marked by people of many faiths and none, all of whom need to acknowledge death in some way. One of the huge challenges of Covid has been the disruption of so many rituals and patterns for grieving and celebrating lives – which has affected every tradition to some extent.
This weekend also brings the start of Scottish Interfaith Week. This provides an opportunity for interfaith groups, faith communities, schools, organisations and local communities to celebrate Scotland’s religious diversity. There will be events bringing people together to promote dialogue, understanding and co-operation between Scotland’s diverse religious communities and cultures.
This year’s interfaith week highlights another concern that people share across many traditions and expressions – “Together for our planet.” Whether we consider the universe and Earth as part of God’s creation or as the environment that sustains the web of life, there’s a shared care.
This year that interfaith care for our planet is marked alongside the start of the UN climate change summit COP26 in Glasgow. The week expresses a belief that climate action is important for people of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures to get involved in. The survival of our planet depends on all people learning and doing more for climate justice.
The range of events across Scotland and available online can be found at scottishinterfaithweek.org, and includes discussions and dialogue, art and films, stories and silence, prayer and reflection, shared meals and fasting, conversations with religious texts, Diwali celebrations, and joining in the Global Day for Climate Justice. Key to many is listening to voices of indigenous peoples and people from places worst affected by the climate catastrophe.
Together for our planet means that together we need to listen and together we need to act - in every sphere of life, across all our traditions and ways of life.
Yet another widespread spiritual activity is prayer. It takes many different forms, within and across every faith. There are many overlapping labels, including blessing, contemplation, meditation, inspiration, soul space, …
I don’t know which, if any, of these you might do. But, if you do pray in any way, this weekend reminds us all of at least two concerns to hold in prayer.
Together, may we remember all those facing death or grieving losses.
Together may we remember planet Earth and all those meeting in Glasgow who need to make wise decisions.
Let’s pray together for our planet and all people.
Rev Jenny Adams is the Church of Scotland minister for Hopeman, Duffus and Spynie.