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Susan Bergholz Literary Services
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2014_10

 

My ancestors and deceased friends accompany me daily, and this gives me solace.”

 

From La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead, a documentary film by Lourdes Portillo and Susana Muñoz.

From La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead, a documentary film by Lourdes Portillo and Susana Muñoz.

Mexico

October 16, 2014

Craig Pennel, as portrayed in Sandra's book Have You Seen Marie? Illustration by Ester Hernandez.

Craig Pennel, as portrayed in Sandra's book Have You Seen Marie? Illustration by Ester Hernandez.

Queridos,


Day of the Dead draws near (November lst for the deceased children and November 2nd for deceased adults), an opportunity for us to nourish and be nourished by our spirit allies, our family members who have crossed over. Just the opposite of Halloween, Day of the Dead is a day to remember our connections to the other side.

These spirits are not ghouls come to frighten us, but ancestors who guide and protect us.
I am particularly moved by November lst since it's the anniversary of my mother's death. I will be installing an altar in her honor at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History and lecturing on that very day at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. at 2:00 p.m.. I hope you can come see the altar, which will be on display at the American History Museum building during the holidays.


I am deeply moved by the connection Mexicans have to the spirit world and am learning a lot at this time of my life, healing the rift between the way I was raised to see Death in the United States and the way Death coexists with the living daily in the world of the Mexicans. I am drawing from this knowledge and hoping to put it to use in my upcoming writing. The documentary La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead by my friend Lourdes Portillo is a wonderful place to explore the celebration. (It can be purchased at www.lourdesportillo.com.) The photo above is from that excellent film.


Meanwhile, I wish you all a day of remembrance on the lst and 2nd of November. Remember to call forth your ancestors to protect you, ask to do work that honors them, ask them to help us put aside those negative emotions that block us from receiving their guidance — personal agenda, fear, ego, shame, rage, envy — and replace them with acceptance, courage, trust, humility, forgiveness, and generosity. If we do this at sunset, when the ancestors surround us, we will find it easier to hear their daily guidance. I want to mention that these past sixteen months I have lost mis muy queridos tios y tias — Edna Cisneros, Estela Cisneros de Beamonte, and most recently Jorge Cisneros. Friends have also lost their fathers or mothers, and my heart goes out to them now. I have lost as well my hermano del corazón Craig Pennel, who every Thanksgiving made me an "exotic" green bean casserole. (Exotic to me, at least.) I remember Craig every time I wash dishes.


My ancestors and deceased friends accompany me daily, and this gives me solace. I wish you all the same during this season of remembrance.

abrazos fuertes,
Sandra