Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Burning

Last summer I had my Pardoning Altar in two different art events. One was a spirituality show in Greenwood and the other was my solo exhibition at the Sumter Gallery of Art. I set the altar up as an installation instead of just a sculptural piece. By this I mean, it invited viewers to "participate".

A ballot box, a stack of blank index cards, and a dozen pencils were provided. The signage asked people to write their own petitions for forgiveness on one of the papers and deposit it in the box. I promised to burn all the petitions at a later date--without reading them.

Well, I decided Halloween was the perfect time for a sacred burning. We never get any trick-or-treaters at Mouse House (largely due to the fact that four of the five houses on our block are businesses!) Burning the petitions was my way of celebrating Halloween.

To me Halloween isn't just a pagan day; it's All Saint's Day; it's a day to think about death and an afterlife. Putting ones transgressions behind oneself is an important way to prepare for the inevitable. So, burning the petitions for forgiveness just seemed to fit into Halloween. Okay, it's strange but the night was beautiful and the burning did seem quite sacred.

I put all the petitions into a basket (including those I wrote over five years ago when I created the altar--they were attached to the back with hat pins!) I read only my own petititons and was surprised to see what I wrote. I sought to forgive those who had hurt me in a quest for my own forgiveness (as in St. Francis' prayer--It is in the pardoning that we are pardoned). I had forgotten and forgiven many. It felt good to burn all these papers and watch the "sin" melt away into smoke and air.

Everything burned including the basket. There was nothing but ash remaining. I smudged the ashes with my shoe and will let the next rain take care of the markings.

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