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Today... I would like to speak about today.
It is an ordinary day like any other, and not really particularly special.
Yet simultaneously, it is a date like no other – before or after.

October 31st—depending on ones beliefs, culture, and age—is a day (and night) of significance of many different kinds to a great many different people. To some it is the time for spooks and scares, costumes and candy, as All Hallows Eve has been merged with the ancient Gaelic pagan festival of Samhain and Western capitalism to form the synthesis known as Halloween. It is a largely secular festivity for most, in which celebrants take a delightful glee in poking fun at the macabre in an annual ritual attempt (however subconscious) to banish the fear of death from their lives by robbing it of its power.
To others, it is a time of darkness and mystery. To them it is regarded as the one night of the year when the “veil” which separates the two worlds, that of the living and that of the dead, is believed to be at its thinnest and most permeable. For these individuals, it is a time for embracing the darkness and mystery of death as a healthy and necessary part of the cycle of life. There will be grand feasts including plates set out for the departed, bonfire rituals, and perhaps even a séance or two for good measure. Magick is in the air, and you can feel it on the breeze; it is an occasion both equally solemn and celebratory.
And then there are those of our numbers who live in the Southern hemisphere – for you, it's Spring right now and you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about!

Whoever you are, and however you traditionally prefer to celebrate, observe, or commemorate this uniquely special day of days, we Jedi also put our own special significance on the last night of October; our Liturgical calendar recognizes this particular date as “Memorial Day” (no doubt leaving American military personnel feeling a tad bewildered, I'm sure). The concept of Memorial Day is simple enough, as the Temple FAQ states, it is a time “to honour those that have passed back into the Force”, but what exactly does it mean to honor those who have passed?

I don't think anyone here needs me to tell them how painful the loss of a loved one is. Even those of us with the rosiest outlook on death that one could possibly imagine can still be left reeling from the existential gut-punch that accompanies the passing of someone close to them. Mourning is normal, and grieving is normal – more than normal in fact, they're healthy components of coming to terms with the most incredibly stark of all changes that we can possibly be faced with in our lives. Sometimes however, the process seems to get stuck in gear, and individuals are unable to get back on their feet, even after a healthy grieving period.

Full disclosure here: I'm no psychotherapist, and I don't have the training to give advice on how to get through the deep depression that can end up seducing many into its grip after someone close to them passes back to the Force. However, I do know that pulling one's feet free of this quagmire is necessary, both for the one grieving, and for the one who has moved on to their next journey; we want to honor those who have touched our lives, yet grieving is at its core about expressing our pain – over our loss. Eventually the grieving too must end, because when we're too busy thinking about our own pain we can't honor anything or anyone, outside of our own—albeit understandable—sense of anguish.

Those we have truly loved, and truly love us, are with us in the Force; how many of these beloved fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and animal companions, would be dismayed to see that any one of us is still grieving, still never able to get on with living? One good way to honor those who have passed is to know ourselves well enough to understand when the time for grieving has passed, and allow them to watch over and guide us as we live full and fruitful lives in their names. They wouldn't want us to spend the rest of our days in despair simply because they've moved to the next level; my grandfather wouldn't feel honored by that, he'd just feel sad for me.

So there's just one last thought before I'm done that I would like to leave you with before I relieve you of my interminable yammering. I opened this sermon with the intention to talk about today, but all I ever really ended up speaking on was the significance of the date. After all of this talk of what the date means, it is readily apparent to me that the most effective way that each and every one of us can honor those who have passed back into the Force, is to be pre-emptive; by honoring those we care about, and who care about us, today while we're still breathing the same air – while we still have a chance to do it without the pain of loss getting in the way.

Thank you, and May the Force be with you all.

Audio component: http://youtu.be/NRJjhLJcVsk