March 23, 2017 (day 23)
Before I get to this writing end of day, I begin my day with a letter to God. It wasn’t something I came to on my own and has proven to be invaluable. Not that there has not been resistance.
My friends know I love words and many know how much I loved and still love my grandmother. So for my birthday several years ago my mama friend gave me a copy of “My Grandfather’s Blessings” by Rachel Remen. It was a delight and surprise. Not something that had been on my radar and sometimes those gifts, especially those unexpected books are the best kind.
I am profoundly grateful because in her book of stories she talks about a daily ritual that has also become invaluable in my life. I use my grandmother’s bud vase which sits on the windowsill altar both here and the one I had in my kitchen in MD. I share it with you tonight because it is so simple and yet so very profound. When I tell people about it, I often say how the sunlight shining on that small vase of water sparks some amazing energy within me. Both gratitude and awe for how beautiful and important each person’s portion of life is for the greater good. Here it is:
“Breathing In and Breathing Out” by Rachel Remen
” I begin and end every day with a very old ritual that was taught to me by a gentle elderly woman who is a Tibetan nun. Each morning, the first thing after awakening, you take a small empty bowl that you keep for this purpose and fill it slowly to the brim from a source of running water. Doubtless, the originators of this ritual had in mind some high mountain stream. I use my kitchen faucet, turning it on and letting it run for a while before passing my little bowl through the water to fill it completely.
As the bowl fills, you reflect on the particulars of your life, whatever they are. The people with whom you share your time, your state of health, whatever problems you face, what skills and strengths you have. Your disappointments and successes, your worries, your personal gifts, your personal limitations, your home, all your possessions, your losses, you history as a human being. As the bowl fills, you receive your life openheartedly and unconditionally as your portion. Walking very slowly so as not to spill a drop out of the brimming bowl, you take it to a private place in your home, perhaps a personal altar, and place it there, dedicating all that it contains to the service of life. Leaving the full bowl in its place you begin your day.
I find that this practice has been profoundly healing to me. The thought that all things can be used equally to befriend life seems to soften the edges of things, to break down the boundaries between one’s sorrows and one’s joys, one’s wounds and one’s strengths. They may be of equal value in serving life. Perhaps it is through such consecration that all things will ultimately reveal their true value and meaning.
Each evening, the last thing before going to sleep, you take the bowl outside and empty the water out onto the earth. Then you place the empty bowl upside down in its special place in your home, turn out your light and rest. Perhaps this cycle of openheartedly taking on whatever one has been given, using it all to serve this life around you, then letting it go completely refers as much to wisdom of living a lifetime as it does to the wisdom of living each day.”
I invite you to try it. These tangible practices have opened me up. Changed me. Amen.