Happy Saturday, friends. It’s a blustery one here in Sandy, but oh, I love the wind… the soft tinkle of chimes is one of my favorite sounds, and to be toasty-warm in the house while it’s cold outside feels so good and reminds me to be thankful. Of course, that feeling is tempered by the fact that too many people are not nestled in warm shelters now, but that’s an opportunity for prayer and thoughts of ways to help.
Speaking of which, this year instead of buying presents for each other, my family is going to donate imperishables and money to a local food bank. With so many people in dire straits now, we just can’t abide adding more to our already bursting coffers while they go hungry. We’ve been hungry before, and have received generously from people; it’s a pleasure to give back, even if our offering is small. The widow’s mite counts. We’ll still let Santa in on Christmas Eve to fill the stockings, however. We don’t want him out of a job, too!
The past couple days have been amazingly fulsome for me. As I wrote myself an email last night, which I’ve started doing as a journal of sorts, and recounted all the wonders of the day, I felt so, I don’t know, full and whole and loved. During yesterday’s prayer time, which was – again – transforming, I was impressed with the importance of holding some of the spiritual things, the deeper things, that happen to me close to my vest, and not share them on the blog. It’s not that I don’t want you to know about them… I just think that, for my sake, it would be best to interact about them only with those who genuinely want to be involved along with me. Those who are seeking for themselves. It isn’t my intention to shut anyone out, not at all. But some of the stuff is intensely personal, subjective in the extreme, and new… and I don’t want to open myself up to negativity. Not yet. I hope this makes sense.
That said, if you want to talk to me about anything regarding my spiritual path, please email me and I’ll be completely vulnerable with you. I would love that. If you simply enjoy reading what I’ve come to see as my “life around the edges” – the stuff I write in my blog – and don’t need to be apprised of what happens in the middle, then please know that I’m not offended or hurt in any way! I’m delighted that you want to know me at any level! So everyone wins, and I don’t end up feeling like I’ve torn open my chest for the public to point at. To be honest, however, this is what I’m shooting for eventually. I will tell you that during part of my prayer time this morning, I thought of the beautiful Catholic image of Jesus’s sacred heart, only I saw it not in the prettied-up version, but as a bloody beating reality, as he held his chest open wide for me to see. Like I said, that’s the version I intend to emulate, hopefully someday soon. But for now, a little bit of shush is in order.
I have a cold, by the way. It hasn’t held me back too much, though–I’ve had a fair amount of energy, and even took apart the book shelf/dresser assembly in the living room yesterday and fixed the back, which had gone askew during its move into the house. Every time I’d looked at it I’d known that the back was messed up and it bothered me, so it feels mighty good now to feel only peace when I see it. It holds my “sacred bookshelves” and I really didn’t relish the thought that they were resting on a rickety foundation. :)
Oh my gosh, which reminds me… I watched a beautiful movie yesterday called Departures. It was a Japanese story about a young cellist who lost his job in an orchestra and decided to move back to the small town where he was raised. The only job he could find was as a ‘casketer,’ or someone who prepares bodies for burial. In case you want to see it, I won’t say more, but I was so struck by the profound respect, grace, and dignity this young man and his employer demonstrated to the body and its attending family members as they readied it for cremation. Awhile back I’d seriously considered pursuing a degree in funeral services, but was turned off by the emphasis on using preservatives, pushing pricey caskets and burial plots, and introducing chemicals into our already-overloaded earth. The process shown in the movie was a stark contrast, and exactly what I’d longed for when I initially thought of working with dead bodies. It was truly beautiful.
Anyway, what made me think of the movie in conjunction with my sacred bookshelves was remembering how touched I was by the portrayal of the lovely Buddhist rituals surrounding death. I’m especially mindful of ritual now that I’m establishing some of my own. The thing I like about where I am now in my life, as opposed to where I was before, is that I know that my rituals aren’t necessary in order to reach God. I don’t have to use them, or anything else, in order to gain his ear. What my rituals do is open up in me a wide-open space; they quiet my mind; they put me in touch with silence and the powerful immensity of the Creator from which all things emerge. They bring me to stillness. Ritual reminds me of who I am, and I’ve come to love it for that. Have a wonderful weekend, friends! Love to you all. xo