This week I came across some excerpts from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. My mother got this book, on a tape, after she was declared legally blind. She did not care for my clumsy conversation about death, some twenty years before her own, and said “go along out of that” one of her favorite phrases to say. She would hear no more from me on that subject. I am encouraged to find this book for myself to read it now as I will soon be the age she was when she read it. It talks of Light, Holy Ones, Hidden places, Gates and Temples, about the journey as a soul, through to our inner holy selves.
My one Sunday in Ireland coincided with Cemetery Sunday. All the graves are worked on and look perfect for the outdoor mass in the afternoon. My great grandmother, Catherine Plunkett, is buried there under the “third window,” nobody having any other information about the exact location of her grave.
My father, mother and my mother’s parents are also buried there near the third window in a marked grave, kept beautiful by my sister in law, complete with names and head stone and flowers in a diamond shape in the center, with roses growing there.
The top of the grave is reinforced and there are pebbles of a bright color scattered on top. The roses were about to bloom.
My maternal grandfather, who died of the “black flu” while his daughter, my mother, Teresa grew in his wife’s womb, is buried there also. My sister Mary secured a fine spot at the end of the graveyard, the result of some negotiations, for an expat, coming back to be buried in her home parish.
She lived there for the last months of her life. Her grave is overlooking farmland and the Cnoc Casta.
If she was able to sit up on the grave she would see the path, out into the field from the graveyard, over the two streams, and walk home that way, as she often did from school. It is through bogland and was always spongy and cushioned and full of trees, hedges and wild things. She was always full of stories about who bossed whom around as children and who was mean to whom. Sometimes she managed to be the leader of the pack.
Mary’s untimely death, in her fifties, from a glioblastoma, cancer of the brain, could not be stopped by operation or radiation. When she called me in April, to tell me about her cancer diagnosis, she told me, that the previous January, 2014, she got the distinct feeling that she had completed everything she needed to do on the earth. She was buried in January 2015. There is a lovely photograph on her on her tombstone showing her youth and beauty.
Many of the old evergreens in the graveyard, have been taken down recently and one was carved into the image of Jesus and St Thomas, with the latter reaching into the side of Jesus. Jesus looks like he finds it all amusing. The name of the church is “St Thomas’ Rosemount Church.”
The open air Mass, with the whole parish assembled, on “Cemetery Sunday” and people from other places coming to acknowledge and pray for the ancestors also, on a sunny day was a grounding experience, as my brother and I sat on the grave of my mother and father. We were joined by another family as the outer border of our grave was good to sit on. Other family members sat at Mary’s grave.
The priest did two rituals at the end of mass. The first was to bless the graves and ritually scattering Holy Water, in all the directions, on all sides of the church, over the graves. He was accompanied by a Carmelite priest. There was also a singer who sang us through the ceremonies in a beautiful voice.
The second ritual involved the priest “Father Tony,” going around the graveyard with the Monstrance, a large circular object, silver spiking out from the center, in all four directions, with the white host in the center, looking even brighter in the sun. He made a point of standing before all the small groups, individually, blessing them as he made the sign of the cross with the monstrance.
I felt he sent out holy energy as he did this and I felt personally included and blessed. I appreciated being there and having him take this time to be the priest, to bless the graves and to bless the crowd. It was a perfect day for a picnic, or a covered dish, but this is not the Irish way. Afterwards all my family went back to our family home and had a lovely “tea” made by Norah Longworth, my sister in law. The day of the Dead is over for another year.
This weekend I am completing my training on the MARI Cards in Cleveland, Ohio. The MARI cards are a psychoanalytic tool which stands for Mandala Assessment Research Instrument. You can look up more details on this site. A Mari card reading leans into the unconscious, to pull out where the person is on the round of life. It also brings out many questions, which help the person see their own blocks, ways to get past them and also how to use the strengths they have. You can book a reading anytime.
Have a great week. Love from Rose.