Monday, 31 October 2016

A Joseph Campbell Samhain




Origins of Halloween lectures given by Joseph Campbell delivered a year apart at the Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids Michigan;  October 25, 1981, and October 31, 1982. Together they form one of the man's most insightful and uplifting talks.


LECTURE ONE

I can’t tell you what a feeling I have of the privilege of participating in this perfectly beautiful event, in this magical atmosphere of these lovely windows, and the music that we’ve heard, and the amusing entry of the little people—the little goblins; the recently born.

It was not at all inappropriate or even a radical change of mood and meditation that your minister should have mentioned the passing of one of the members of the congregation, a person who evidently meant a great deal to you and has returned to the source land from which we all derive. 

Hallowe’en, the eve of the holy days (that’s what the word means), is a festival of the ancient Celtic world particularly. It is matched six months away by the festival of May Day and by the eve of Walpurgis Night which precedes it. The time of this festival is the time of the passing of the organic world in which we live into the realm of darkness, of falling leaves. The other opposite day is of the breaking forth of the fresh leaves of spring.

With this, mankind—or at least the people in those early pastoral days—joined their meditation with the actualities of the natural world, participating in the world by way of meditation and relevant action.

Now, who are these little goblins that appear? As I said, it is not inappropriate to think of death at this time. In fact, the day after Hallowe’en is All Saints’ Day followed by All Souls’ Day. In Europe on these days people go to the graves of their beloved ones who have passed away. For centuries, they brought not only prayers and recollections but also little gifts. There is a secret psychological aspect to this. So often when a dear person dies, we have a sense of guilt and regret for the lovely things we have not done, and for the little negative acts that we wish we had not rendered.

This can be associated with the idea of the dead as tricking those and hurting those who have hurt them. There is a fear of the dead that is an old, old feeling. It is based on this regret, actually, with respect to the attitude we have had toward them. In Germany and Vienna and the Catholic Europe generally, people go to the graves. But in the Celtic world—the world with which Hallowe’en is associated—it is the dead who come to visit the homes. Hallowe’en is the night of the re-entry of the dead into their domiciles, visiting again the people with whom they had dwelled. The idea of giving a gift, a treat, or suffering a trick—a shocking, surprising, nasty little trick—is associated with the guilt feeling.

There is another aspect that belongs to the old thinking about this, related to the return of the dead. There is a notion of reincarnation; namely, that our children are really returning ancestors. In a sense, they truly are. That is to say, the ancestral genes, the ancestral strain of inheritance, appears again in these little children. Many people in traditional cultures look at the child to see who it is who has returned. So these little creatures coming in here are indeed our children; but they are also representatives of that general energy of life which pours through us and of which we are momentarily manifestations and creatures.

The whole game of wearing masks: We know that what’s behind the mask is an innocent little creature. I thought it was darling as they came down those aisles. They got smaller and smaller; and the costumes became more and more incongruous and outrageous. In their incongruity and outrageous character, they were more and more effective. You had a sort of belief; you had an emotional impact from this crazy little face even though you knew that behind it was this darling little innocent. These two attitudes are proper with respect to all mythological beliefs.

I had another experience just before seeing the children. It was in the vestry where the choir was putting on its garments. I saw these gentlemen of Grand Rapids—businessmen, medical men perhaps, distinguished citizens and so forth—transforming themselves into angels. And I thought, “Well, I’m willing to believe it, you know.” At the same time, I knew that they were these gentlemen whom I had just recently met. Then, as I sat here on this “throne,” this beautiful choir struck my ears and senses. It was a lifting moment. And you know indeed they are angels. Angels are mythological characters whose function is to sing the praise of God: benign choirs of angels singing the nine aspects of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; Father in relation to the Son and Holy Ghost; Son in relation to the Father and Holy Ghost; Holy Ghost in relation to the Father and Son. What happened? What happened was that putting on the costume, identifying with the role that it represented, actually brought out of these gentlemen (and the ladies who were in another attiring room, of course, and whose voices came to me as a surprise) the angelic quality that is within them; namely, the quality of contemplation and meditation on the marvelous mystery symbolized in our image of the Trinity. The costume actually talks to and evokes something deeply inside which is more permanent, which is archetypal, which is more eternal within us than the secular character that we represent in the world.

We live these two lives. I am staying now in the Grand Plaza Hotel. The glass-enclosed elevator that I take shows another building being erected, with a great derrick and all. Yesterday, as I went up and down in the elevator, I could see men working there. I could see their daily lives and all the city in daily life, doing the jobs of the secular moment. But today, the derricks were perfectly still, and no one was there. The people were in one way or another enjoying or experiencing the festival day. Sunday, the festival day, (or Hallowe’en, a very special festival day) gives us a chance to exercise our imagination—to bring out, as has been done so beautifully here, some of the structuring forms that underlie our spiritual life and which we may forget in our daily work.

Now, do these little masks have a reality of any kind? That is to say, is the reality of the forms that excite our imagination and actually invoke and evoke creative lively energies that give a joy and bounce to life—do these have a reality? Or are they simply figments that pass away with no sense?

I would hold that their reality is in a way truer and deeper to the source of our life and joy and existence than the realities of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. The realities with which we are engaged in our daily lives are secondary realities. They have to do with taking care of things as they are today in the world of time and space. But those eternal energies and principles that brought us into being in the world, that have created these little children who came in to entertain us and give us the joy of delight in their presence among us, these forms that they represent, are symbolic of the energies of life that are truly eternal within us.

That is really the sense of the festival. That is the sense of the Saturnalia, of Mardi Gras and of these moments of entertainment. They reintroduce us to deeper thoughts. For people who are simply bound to the daily life of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and so forth these may simply seem to be romantic notions; but people who remain there without participating in the romantic notions tend to dry up in their lives. They lose the joy of humor. They become serious. The play of Sunday, the play of being angels in the choir, is not just a peripheral secondary marginal realm of activity. It really is something that touches our own most profound depths.

The other day I received a phone call following one of my lectures where I had spoken of the imagery of religion as mythological, not to be interpreted historically. He said to me that he has to interpret it historically; and yet on the other hand, he somewhat doubts it.

“Well,” I said, “the thing to do is to live with it and act with it as if it were historically true.” The man is bound to the historical plane of thinking.

But there is another kind of truth that is not historical but eternal. These things speak to that. One lives with myth, one lives with these children in their masks, as if there were a truth there. When you live that way, with the as if, gradually it builds into you and there comes what in some of the Buddhist traditions is called “the awakening of faith.” You know that it is true. You know that it is your own inner truth. The worship that holds you for a few hours a week becomes, then, the clue to that deep truth inside.

To move from the more serious to the more playful again—the make-believe, the play, the humor, the delight is the mythological perspective on life. In the Hindu tradition, the world is said to be “God’s play,” “God’s dance.” When one plays life that way, one in a way awakes creative vital energies in oneself that otherwise are not available. Watch a youngster going down the street. He may be galloping as though he were a horse. If he were just walking, he might be a little bored. The galloping brings up life energy.

I had a curious experience some years ago driving up to a curb, and there was a youngster about as big as the smaller ones who came in a few minutes ago standing there in a rigid sort of catatonic posture. As I opened the door to get out of my car, he said in a very very strong voice, “You can’t park here!” I looked around for signs, but there were no warnings.

I said, “Well, why?”

He said, “Because I’m a hydrant.”

So, I went down the block a ways. I didn’t want to break into his meditation. And it was a meditation. I don’t know what got him started on that. And I thought, “Yes, this is a make-believe.” Then I thought of the clergy in its vestments, and I thought, “I wonder how seriously they’re taking this thing?” (I’ll let that one go…)

Here we are in this sanctuary with these forms around us. They are not just windows. They are making a mythological statement. They are speaking to something in us that suggests a role to play.

This whole business of playing roles… Carl Jung in his writings speaks of the roles that we play in life, the roles that society puts upon us. Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, and all that. People sometimes identify with the role and think that that is what they are. Jung calls these roles “personae.” Persona is the mask worn by an actor.

These roles include the whole moral structure of society—how you are to behave; what kind of clothing you are to wear. Moral and customary habits are included in these roles. Jung says that we lose our vitality in playing the role if we identify with it. We should play the role and realize that we are transcendent of it, and playing into it.

This is one of the reasons why young people enjoy theatrical activities. My wife is a dancer, and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to see what happens to young people when they participate in theatrical works. They’re playing roles; but they’re playing roles actually that are somewhat inside themselves, and you can see the whole person develop through this. You can see them come alive in a new way. I’ve watched them from early to late years in the creation of their artistic life. This is a great privilege artists have, to play their roles.

I think that in the secular life of people in business or industry there are two kinds also. There are those who play the role. I know many of them, and they have a wonderful vitality of personality. There are those on the other hand who are it, who identify with it and lose themselves in it. If you play a life role as though it were a mythological game, there is vitality and wonder in it. One thinks then that perhaps the whole universe, as the Hindus say, is God’s play. He doesn’t take it too seriously. He comes in, as Saint Paul says in the epistle to the Philippians, and he doesn’t think that godhood is something to be held to. That was a role. The Christ did not think godhood something to be held to but came down, took the role of man even to the death on the cross which of course then relieved him of that role and returned him to the other. There is this sense of play.

There is a beautiful passage in one of the apocryphal texts, I think it is the Acts of John, where at the Last Supper Jesus said, “Let us dance.” There’s a recitation of a kind of litany of miraculous and universal marvels, recited phrase by phrase with amen, and the round dance of Jesus and the apostles, the crucifixion itself being part of the dance of that play.

That is the theme that it seemed to me well to bring forward at this lovely and memorable and enchanting occasion for which I feel so grateful—the theme of the mask, and the play, and death, and birth and childhood. It’s all part of a wonderful life game that one can play, not in the way of having it thrust upon one, but in the way of joyful participation and enactment so that even death is enacted. There’s a wonderful aristocratic tradition in Japan of language which is a way of speech of the aristocratic caste. It’s called play language. You meet a person whose father has just died and you say, “I hear your father has played dying.” That’s a beautiful theme, and all of us can bring new energy and will into our lives by thinking of it in that playful way. I think Hallowe’en is perhaps one of the best meditations for this… the playing of being children, the playing of being the returned ancestors, and the playing of dying.

That is my meditation for this beautiful day. I can’t leave without thanking you all for participating in my experience of this congregation and its playful invention of one of the most convincing rituals I think I’ve witnessed in a modern community. My thanks to you all.

The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.


LECTURE TWO

I begin by expressing my gratitude for the privilege of participating another year in this magnificent ceremonial. I find it deeply moving. The word in the hymn we sang of our community in God leads us to the ground base of this whole experience. Through the arts of music and beautiful architecture we are removed from our usual secular ways of relating to each other into an experience of grandiose unity and compassion and participation. To hear the glorious choir in this marvelously tremendously powerful Russian hymn (Gospodi Pomilui) in praise of the Lord, which I hadn’t heard for something like thirty or forty years, opened up, for me at any rate, a sense of timelessness. These forms which in earlier times moved people to the realization of their being in God can still b e alive among us. To have it come at this time of year — this beautiful time when the world moves from the joys and pleasures of the summer and its bounty to joys of another kind that come with the darkening of the skies and the inward turning to the ocean of night that’s within us — these resounding hymns and beautiful windows tell for me a marvelous story. And the delicious experience again of the in-pouring of the children, the new life!

This is an old, old European festival that we are celebrating. It goes back to early Celtic times. It is the time of the returning dead, the returning ancestors, the returning energy of the long past in the forms of our own dear little children who carry the future in their lives. The trick-or-treat theme is important here as well. The children seemed to express this as they came in through all the doors and windows of the church. One little group came out almost from under my chair!

This energy of life in which we are all one actually does enclose us all, and it pours its produce inexhaustibly into the field of time and space of our usual experience in the form of life in its various ways. One has to, in the world, receive this energy that comes pouring in and give it play. It has to be given play in ways that harmonize with what might be called the intentional consciousness that it represents. One of the problems, of course, in civilizations and in the processes of time through which we go, is to have these energies play in a healthy, strong and beautiful way so that people can play the dance of life as these little children played their parts today.

I had the privilege of classifying the costumes as they came in this time. Last year I was so startled that I just observed them. But this time I classified them. They fall into two or three important classifications. The first is that of forms which have to d o with the deep mysteries of the unconscious and of the returning dead, not living in the world of the forms that we can provide — ghouls, ghosts. I noticed some really terrifying figures there. There was one that just seemed not to have gotten out of the box yet.

Secondly, there were many that rendered roles that we can play in the world of society. There were little dancers, and there were people who looked as though they might be farmers or athletes or one thing or another.

Here are the two types of masks that we have to consider in thinking about them. The second type is the mask that society provides for us to assume. We’re all wearing masks right here now. As I said last year, there is the wonderful choir in the role of angels singing the praises of the Lord.
What these strange misfits represent is a perfectly legitimate energy of God pouring into a field that has not received them or with which they have not been able to integrate themselves. The power of the nature world that comes to us in our children and in our own lives asks for fulfillment here. There must be in a society the rituals and possibilities for letting the whole psyche come in to play. But there are many — and they are becoming more and more numerous proportionately to the population — who don’t fit in…for whom there is no mask, you might say, that adequately receives the impulse of their natures. And many of these become really dangerous presences among us. They are, as it were, literal manifestations of some of the roles that these little darlings (our children) were playing for us.On the other hand, we have these masks that represent the unconscious dynamic powers. These are the ones that perform the tricks. It is beautiful in a ceremony of this kind to become aware of these in a playful way. But there is something very unhappy and unnatural about this year’s Hallowe’en. I read in the newspaper yesterday morning that people are really afraid to let their children out on trick or treat adventures because of the strange ghouls that are appearing, not wearing masks that they can remove but ghouls in their very personalities.

The problem essentially is this: are you going to play the role, or are you going to become so compulsively moved and identified with it that you become a menace? The menace may move to the dimensions of these events that we’ve been reading about of people putting razor blades in apples to be handed to children, and all that kind of thing. It’s an incredible maliciousness with respect to nature and to the society that has somehow betrayed them, as they feel. On the other hand, it may be that the people who don’t fit just fall out and find their own little roads and their own ways of experiencing life.

I wanted to talk today about the masks as they have been described by the great Irish poet, W.B. Yeats. He has a very interesting and strange book called A Vision in which he compares the cycle of a human lifetime to the cycle of a lunar month. The fifteenth night of the moon, being the night of the full moon after which the moon in its light declines and goes back to the dark from which it came, he compares with the thirty-fifth year of a human lifetime. So if the full cycle of a lifetime is three score and ten, or seventy years, then thirty-five would be your midpoint. Up to that time there is a gradual growth and increase in light. This is the apogee, the noon time of a life. From there on, there is a decline. There is, then, a totally different psychological problem to be faced after the fifteenth night than the problems antecedent to it.

He speaks in an extremely interesting way of the masks that relate, just to celebrate the mask theme of to. He speaks in an extremely interesting way of the mask that relate to these different stages. I want to review those very briefly, just to celebrate the mask theme of today’s festival.

A child is born from darkness as the moon from darkness — that dark abyss of God’s will and God’s intention, out of which we all come. Immediately on appearing, the child becomes subjected to the imprints, to the force of the society into which it has come. So there are two aspects here. There is the general mystery of the birth out of God, “trailing clouds of glory do we come” as Wordsworth said, “from God, who is our home.” But immediately, then, there is the other field, the field of the society which is putting it s imprint upon us. This imprint will differ from place to place, and from time to time. The individual as he becomes aware of himself has somehow or other to deal with it.
Yeats calls this imprinted social mask the primary mask. It is the first mask that’s put upon us after our emergence from the creative void of God. Next, at the eighth night of the moon when light begins to dominate and increase over darkness (it’s the night of the half moon) there comes a new possibility. The individual at that time — and it’s a bit beyond the time of our little children who were here today — is in the beginning of adolescence. The individual then may have a sense of potentialities and possibilities within himself which do not correspond to what society has imprinted upon him. That is to say, he is `out of sync’ with the society. Now, he may be out of sync in a dangerous way or in a creative way. Let us assume optimistically that it will be a creative intent ion that is born within him. It’s that of bringing forth the potentialities of his own nature which have not been damaged by the imprints of the primary mask. This emerging sense of a lifetime of his own is what Yeats calls the emergence of the antithetical mask. This is the main crisis of adolescence. The more sensitive, the more inward-directed the person, the more likely the sense of a spiritual possibility of his own life that was not anticipated by the society.

After all, each of us is an individual. No two thumb prints are alike. No two human beings. And so, what is put on the individual by the primary mask may not be appropriate to his potentialities. Then he has to break forth and find his own way. When the break-forth is fortunate and the person does not meet with too great frustration, you have the emergence of a creative innovative personality.
Childhood is a period of dependency on the world into which it has been born. Then there must come in the adolescent period an experience of inward authority and personal responsibility no longer looking forward to authority as telling you what you must do and how you must behave. You must have been so trained to the sensitivities and sensibilities of human life that you will govern yourself appropriately to the requirements of the society while nevertheless seeking your own fulfillment and realization. This is the the me that appears in the initiation ceremonies, the puberty rites and so forth, of people all over the world. The child must die to childhood, die to the attitude of dependency, and come to adulthood, namely of self-responsible life.

In general, we lack those rituals in our society; and so we find people, as it were, winging it — trying to work it out themselves and find the way to their own fulfillment without the adequate instruction of the society. Hence these aberrations that have destroyed for many the fun of this year’s Hallowe’en. People can go very badly awry in this individual quest. But when the quest is fortunate, there comes a lifetime of creative innovative action.

The fifteenth night of the moon offers a problem of its own which can be illustrated simply by going out onto the ocean or out onto the great plains to see, at the moment of sunset, in the west the sun resting on the horizon. That is the wonder of the fifteenth night of the moon. Certain months of the year they are exactly the same size and the same brilliance. I have had the experience only twice in my life of seeing this on the fifteenth night; and on both occasions I mistook the moon for the sun.

This is an old medieval idea that Yeats is bringing up again. It’s an alchemical notion. In the thirty-fifth year of your life you are at the fullness of your conscious radiance. Your body is at its perfection. (I’m told that in heaven after the resurrection of the body everyone there will be thirty-five years old! So take care of how you look at that time.) The psyche is at its fullness. The consciousness is at its maximum power and radiance. At this moment, the mystical realization is to be achieved. You are to ask yourself, “Who am I?” “Am I the consciousness that informs this body, or am I the vehicle of the consciousness?”

Now, in our living, we are both at the same time. We think of ourselves as both at the same time. But as the body deteriorates later on, the consciousness automatically removes itself, and you watch your body go. So at this fifteenth night, you have to make the disengagement from absolute attachment to the body which is your personality mask that is the vehicle, actually, of the play of your consciousness in the world.

I was once lecturing to a group of prep school boys on Buddhism which has to do with this problem of illumination and consciousness. The word `Buddha’ means “the one who has waked up to the full knowledge of his consciousness.” I was trying to think how I would explain this to these boys. I looked up at the ceiling, and some deity spoke to me. I said, “Boys, look up. You can say, “The lights (plural) are on,” or you can say “The light (singular) is on.” These are two ways of saying exactly the same thing. In one case, you are emphasizing or placing focus on the bulb, which is the vehicle; in the other, you are placing the emphasis on the general.

Now, when one of those bulbs breaks or dies, the superintendent of buildings or grounds doesn’t come in and say, “I was particularly fond of the bulb. That was the one.” Nothing of the kind. He takes it out and throws it away and puts in another bulb. So you c an ask, “What is important?” Is it the bulb, or is it the light that it communicates? So I said, “Now, boys, looking down from the bulbs in the ceiling, let’s look at the heads around us here. What are these vehicles of? They are vehicles of consciousness.” So what is important here? Is it the vehicle, or is it the consciousness; and with what do you identify yourself?”In Japan, there are two words to describe these two attitudes. Accent on the individual is called the ji-hokai. That is the individual realm. Accent on the general is called the ri-hokai. Then they say, very succinctly, “Ji ri mu ge.” Individual, general, no obstruction — just the same. And so you can say, “The lights (plural) are on,” or “The light is on.” Just the same.

You are consciousness. That’s what you are, for a moment in this body which has now reached its thirty-fifth year. And this body is going gradually to deteriorate. The consciousness will finally disengage itself altogether from this vehicle. When you have identified yourself as that consciousness, you can watch the body go, with gratitude, as the mask or the role that carried you to realization.

When you have identified with consciousness (and I mean this) you have identified yourself with the consciousness that lives in others as well. This is the meaning of the word in the hymn that we sang of our unity in God. God is the consciousness and energy that forms our lives. When we have identified ourselves with that, we live, as Paul says, not as I but as Christ in us. When that has happened, you can say as the Japanese say, “ji ji mu ge.” Individual,individual, no obstruction. We are one.

This realization can be arrived at by mental life, but it can also be arrived at spontaneously. There’s a beautiful paper by Schopenhauer, called “The Foundation of Morality,” in which he asks, “How is it that an individual can so participate in the pain and trouble and danger of another that, forgetting his own self-preservation, he moves spontaneously, not by intention, to the other’s rescue, even at the risk of his own life, and perhaps the loss of it?” How is it that one can so forget himself that he will do a thing like that?

Some years ago in Hawaii a very strange and wonderful adventure occurred on the island of Oahu where Honolulu is. There is a great ridge of rocky mountain that goes across a great part of the island. Through that the wind from the north comes blowing. People g o there to get blown about. They also go up there to commit suicide. A police car was coming up this road. The two policemen in the car noticed, just beyond the railing that protected them against going over the cliff that there was a young man apparently contemplating suicide. The police car stopped. The policeman on the right jumped out and grabbed the young man just as he jumped. The police man did not let go. He was being carried over, too, when the other policeman came around in time to drag both of them back.

The first policeman was asked, “Why didn’t you let go?” He had forgotten his wife, he’d forgotten his family, he’d forgotten his career, he’d forgotten his duties to the world — everything.

His answer was, “I couldn’t. I had given myself to that young man in such a way that if I had let him go, I could not have lived another day of my life.”

“How can this happen?” Schopenhauer asks.

His answer is that this is the realization of a metaphysical truth that comes breaking through, and a truer truth than the one of our separateness. It is the truth and realization that you and that other are one. Our sense of separateness is secondary. Primary is our unity.

We come into the world as consciousness. A mask of personality encloses that consciousness. It is in the realization that what we really are is the consciousness, and our identification with that is what carries us through.

Then we come to the twenty-second night of the moon when the moon moves back into darkness. Darkness begins to be preponderate o ver light. Here one has to hold control of oneself to keep going and to continue the course. The body then finally disengages you from itself, and you return to the dark mystery of God.

To know this about yourself, and to know that the life that you’re leading is not your totality but the vehicle of your totality, is to understand the mystery of life itself as a mask and a transferring of masks and not remaining stuck to the mask of the first eight nights, or of the next eight nights, or the next, but a change of masks. Flow with it so that the consciousness is in process all the time, and does not become fixed. When it becomes fixed, another kind of death comes. The consciousness is no longer fluent and moving but has identified itself with a role absolutely.

In conclusion I want to speak of Nietzsche’s words that relate to this with respect to masks and the processes of life. He speaks of three stages in the life of the spirit incarnate in each of us. Three transformations of the spirit, he calls it. The first is that of the camel which gets down on its knees and asks, “Put a load on me.” That’s the period of these dear little children. This is the just-born life that has come in and is receiving the imprint of the society. The primary mask. “Put a load on me. Teach me what I must know to live in this society.” Once heavily loaded, the camel struggles to its feet and goes out into the desert — into the desert of the realization of its own individual nature. This must follow the reception of the culture good. It must not precede it. First is humility, and obedience, and the reception of the primary mask.

Then comes the turning inward, which happens automatically in adolescence, to find your own inward life. Nietzsche calls this the transformation of the camel into a lion. Then the lion attacks a dragon; and the dragon’s name is Thou Shalt. The dragon is the concretization of all those imprints that the society has put upon you. The function of the lion is to kill the dragon Thou Shalt. On every scale is a “Thou Shalt,” some of them dating from 2000 b.c., others from this morning’s newspaper. And, when the dragon Thou Shalt has been killed — that is to say, when you have made the transition from simple obedience to authority over your own life — the third transformation is to that of being a child moving spontaneously out of the energy of its own center. Nietzsche calls it a wheel rolling out of its own center.

That’s what we see in the children, and that is why they are a model for us. With compassion. With the experience that Schopenhauer speaks of as being that of the one who has saved another at the risk of his own life. Com-passion. Mit-leid. Suffering with. The compassion that we felt when these little beings marched up. This was our life, too, that has thrown off death and now moves into future.

With this experience of compassion for the world, we move innocently in it, playing our role instead of being fixed to it. So these little ones who came up here illustrate the goal for ourselves of playing our own life roles that way. In our own participation with them, recognizing them in some way as of ourselves, we experience again that theme that was announced in the hymn of our unity in God.

That’s one of the beautiful things for me about coming to these ceremonies here at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids. This is my second and I hope not my last. The renewal in myself of a sense of participation in community in a way of religious exercise w here the abyss and mystery of God’s will and consciousness living in us all is made known to me through art and through the unity and real beauty of this congregation. It is for me a life renewing experience at this time of the fall season.

And so, blessings on you all of this one unity that is illustrated for us here and experienced in the ceremony today and the little monsters and their masks. Thank you. 

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