I’m reading a book that details a fictional culture that venerates Ancestors.  In every home there is an Altar setup for an Ancestor, a specific Ancestor whom, when honored appears and gives advice to the head of the household.  In this novel series the Ancestor Altar is the focus of the home, large and ornate, it holds items loved by the Ancestor during his/her life.

The reason I’m writing this is that I was wondering, for those of us that venerate our Ancestors in a similar manner – giving offerings, bestowing gifts of food and drink – if we are truly listening.  A scene in the novel has the head of the house honoring the Ancestor, but not heading his/her advice.

Are we truly listening for the good and the bad, and for the advice that maybe we don’t want to hear? When we ask for the wisdom they offer are we prepared to receive it?  Or are we merely placating our own hubris and believing that our Ancestors would have only praise and adoring words for us?  I’m reminding myself today that just as our family still living can have harsh lessons and truthful words to help us get back on track, our Ancestors, the honored dead, maybe can and will do the same if we’re ready to truly listen.

Day of the Dead Altar @ University

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