In a new chapter of my education in Lithuanian heritage, Rita called me today to tell me about the beauty and spiritual meaning of Velines, the day of celebrating the dead.
She told me that over a period of three days, people made pilgrimages to the graves of the deceased to place candles and offer prayers for their souls. In addition to this act of simple prayer, it is also a time to reflect on our relationships with those who have departed; to forgive them for any hurt that they have inflicted on us and to offer them our love.
She described riding out into the countryside in the crisp, dim evening and seeing the candles glowing in the various cemeteries. She talked of always having extra candles to illuminate the graves that remained dark, praying for these souls as well.
Tonight at 11:00 PM we will halt this hectic pace of urban life and offer a prayer for all souls: our ancestors who died before we were born, those who loved us in our lifetime, those whom we have loved, those teachers of the heart with whom we have had complex, even painful, relationships. We will forgive them, love them and pray that they will rest in peace in God's presence.