Thursday, August 19, 2010

Little Rituals of Life..

I was reading Teri's blog..Working The Earth.. and fascinated that she is creating an altar.
Ever since, I've been thinking about altars.
It seems a natural thing to do, to create an altar.
Many people in diverse cultures create altars in churches, in temples, in homes...

They may not all be religious, but always spiritual.
We place a photo of a dear one missing from our lives.
We may add flowers.
Thinking about altars had me search photos from when my husband died.
I remembered how I made an altar when I found myself suddenly living alone.

I had nursed Mo for the five months he was ill. Now I was alone with a multitude of chores that had to be seen to. I know I could have called on my son Steve or friends but I was determined to manage.
I felt overwhelmed. It was springtime. A vegetable garden lay waiting to be dug over and planted. The roof spouting needed cleaning. The flower garden needed attention... first I made a list of all the tasks...

then ... I made my little altar.

Rachel Naomi Remen had written about the Buddhist bowl. I chose my bowl carefully. Green to represent the earth and just the right size to fit in my cupped hands.

When I woke in the morning, the first thing I did was take the bowl to the kitchen and fill it to the brim with clear water,
saying thank you to The Universe for the gift of water and the gift of life.
I would carry it back to my room and place it on the altar, light the candle and sit quietly.
Then I would get out my list of chores and decide on one or two to do that day. Off I would go happily to achieve my goal.

Last thing at night I would tick off completed chores. Tell myself well done. Light the candle, sit quietly, play some lovely music....
finally I would take the bowl, empty the water into the garden and replace the bowl empty and upside down on my little altar grateful for a good day. The empty bowl told me I didn't have to worry about was complete, and I didn't have to worry about hadn't started.

I repeated this little ritual for several months but gradually, I guess, I didn't need to do it any more.

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  1. What a lovely ritual, and a beautiful altar in the photo

  2. A beautiful ritual J, a peaceful ritual to help you through a very hard time. The green bowl looks so special.

  3. Such a beautiful, beautiful ritual. I found myself praying as I was reading along, caught in the spiritual rhythm of your words. Joan, there are many who will read what you share here and will be transformed or find comfort in their grief or their troubles - either now or sometime in the future. Your picture of your altar - so serene - and your selection of the bowl a ritual in itself.

    I found something special when I found your blog. Thank you.

  4. Oh god this is so weird I was thinking the same thing this week about alters . But I guess I kind of have one. It is the ashes of my husband with a few items around it like a poem I just love ..." So fall asleep my love loved by me for I knew love I was loved by thee". ( changed by me to past tense )

  5. Altars can bring such solace and closure into our lives.

    Your story is poignant, evocative, and beautiful. Full of love, a path to inner peace, and light.

  6. Thank you Catherine, Penny, Julie, Marilyn and eema levanah for your thoughtful words. I really appreciate them. Arohanui.