I was thinking about how much I love Pema Chodron, David Whyte, Buddhadarma magazine, anything India or Hindu or yoga related, my energy healing school… why don’t I just join a religious order someday?

I can’t speak for someday. I may hit a yoga retreat or an ashram or visit a Christian religious order just to clean up or get new clarity. I want to visit (almost) every place of worship with every loved one who will invite me, from the Hindu temple with Vidya for puja back to Christchurch in Rugby or Epiphany with my mom. Maybe I’ll take the Art of Living course for my birthday.Maybe I’ll go back to work for some difficult, bureaucratic, profitless agency that lets me help people and stresses me with the hardships of our clientele and staff.

But I could not just walk away permanently. I realized that I love this world, and that is why the answer is no. Spiritual practice must not be something that just sits off to the side waiting for an acceptable time. It is where the rubber hits the road– when someone pisses me off, when I am afraid, when I am celebrating, when there is injustice, mendacity, thoughtlessness, hurt, waste, pain, violence whether in words between family or warfare between nations– that tests what I believe and what I am growing to be.

My Tassajara would be a bed and breakfast where travelers can find family meals from my own garden and welcome and comfort. My 29 Palms is the beach at my Mom and Dad and Grammy’s house, Kim’s back patio looking out over the little lake, or Station Camp in Big South Fork, until such time as we can afford that second home in West Virginia near Granny’s house. I find so much to be grateful for each day, I just have to remember to see it and be grateful.

I don’t need a retreat. I need to be mindful. I can find a walking meditation counting flowers as cars roar by on the smelly city street that is the way to and from my child’s school. I know wine shrinks your brain but ‘this is the blood shed for thee’, and I love to taste it and cook with it. I can find a meditative joy in cooking mindfully, trying to nourish my family with healthy food, swimming upstream against the food industry. I can find a meditation in cleaning and organizing and FitTV. There is so much music to enjoy on YouTube or alternative radio or someday when we have a babysitter again in clubs.

I have about ten vocations… for one of them I might learn Buddhist counseling methods– just read a wonderful article about that in Buddhadarma magazine. I’d love to do that with a fat helping of Jungian study in San Francisco and Kabbalah from the School of Healing Arts in Nashville. I don’t have answers any more than anyone else does… and the answers are right within us, within our values and hopes and need and dreams. And this is our life, our kingdom come.

I love this world. Some parts of it hurt– people do nasty crappy things here in LA, as I know they do everywhere (though maybe not quite so often or willingly!). I think about losses and griefs. I screw up, judge, feel anxious, get irritated. I struggle with giving up unhealthy behaviors– all legal, but not healthy. Travel has forced me over and over again to reframe in a way that has been hard but good for me. How I handle these is constant opportunity for meditation without abandoning daily life. Spirituality can be a retreat, an abandonment of real life… I will never retreat. Meet me right here.

In that spirit, with my usual dedication to reverence and irreverence, here’s one of my theme songs. Stop right here if you don’t like ugly words.

The Bill O’Reilly Dance Remix used to give me a much needed laugh and relief from tension when I was working at the library. Okay, we don’t live in Darfur or anything, but outside of that… simple daily things were so hard I cannot describe it. F* it! I can’t do it! What a joy to have Bill express how I felt so eloquently every single day. I laughed my head off no matter how many times I watched it.

Now the video still gives me great joy– Kim R. just posted it on her fb page this morning and I’ve watched it about five times already and will probably watch it five more. But now the line that speaks to me is F* it! We’ll do it live!

Doing it live…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2YDq6FkVE

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on cartalk.com to donate my ol’ rodeo… snif… I am going to sit down and cry when it goes. What an idiot I am, with so many bigger fish to fry! From the Car Talk Donation web form:

“Missing parts, damage, recent repairs, custom accessories, or mechanical problems:

Problems: has been sitting under a carport. not started in a  year or more. was running when we parked it. Needs water pump and radiator– we just could not afford the time energy and money to get this done. Driver’s power window will not shut. very dusty. dirt inside because we used it to pull out and haul azalea bushes when it was on its last legs. Cracked passenger side headlight. 200K miles. Needs general tuneup/cleanup.

General: With occasional repair to electrical system, this has been an absolute beauty of a car for me for 9 years 125K miles (bought in 1999 with 74K miles on it). I am going to shed some tears when it goes.

Was flooded about 4 feet deep in Houston in 2001; after that entire electrical wiring etc. was re-done and I believe this re-do contributed to the car lasting so long.

The two wheel drive Santa Fe I drive now is but a pale imitation.

Custom accessories: v6 4wd. 6 cd disc changer. sunroof. brush guard. trailer hitch. leather interior (kind of cracked and dirty now).

LORD I hate to let this thing go. It is a real work truck– get it dirty. go ahead, hit it, you think I care? you think you’re the first? it will damage your car worse than it will damage mine. trust me. Rearended in 2005 hooked the poor girl’s car and busted her radiator with the trailer hitch. Got hit on the beltway in DC– who cares? Feel lucky?

Goodbye old thing.

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We’re moving (at some point). Not sure when or exactly where, but we are definitely in new life mode– that is, sowing the seeds for a new ‘field’ or future.

My mom’s priest emails his homilies out most weeks. They are almost always just precious. They’re short– ah, the beauty of a really awesome Episcopalian priest’s homily! True thoughtful meaning,  no time wasted!

He’s an undiscovered jewel of humility, study, kindness put straight into serious good works large and small, and comfort with human fears and pettiness– including making fun of his own (this attitude is kind of typical of the few priests I’ve known and may explain my willingness to be so, er, human, so publicly).

And he doesn’t hold back his sweet words–  he sends ’em out ahead of time to whoever wants ’em instead of trying to entice folks to actually show up to hear what he’s going to say this time. He doesn’t play games– and has the small but devoted attendance and impoverished church pocketbook to show for it I guess. But it’s important to be a straight shooter.

Today he sent out the Anglican history of Rogation Day. I really liked it.

I had a yard sale yesterday, spent HOURS on it and it wasn’t even enough time, and of course after paying for ads in the paper I about broke even and made about ten cents an hour.

And that is *not* counting the money I had to give my child to convince her to get rid of a few token extra toys– some for a friend whose house flooded, and a very few just to put in the trash (where a lot more of them really need to go!!!).

Yesterday was a day of people doing sweet things for me. One BFF came over and watched the stuff for me while I ran upstairs and pulled from the attic a bunch of clothes I’ve been hoarding, some for 20 years, out to go through in hopes I could bring myself to weed those too. We went through the grownup clothes, and, well, I found about six things I can definitively say I am glad to throw away.

My other clothes from the 80’s and 90’s? No way. Keeping. Can’t let go. Heck, we’re going to a place where we’ll actually need wool sweaters. And the baby clothes? I think I opened one rubbermaid tub– couldn’t even reach in and look at the stuff!– before I turned away. I can’t do this!

I have the stuff on mothballs and lots off ’em for which I take serious ribbing from the BFFs. But here’s the point of those mothballs. I am in it for the long haul, I tell you. If someone needs a sweater, if a baby needs clothes 40 years from now, I got ’em!

Last night as I brought in the yardsale clothes and put them in the ‘yard sale closet’ I thought, what am I *even* (as Napoleon Dynamite would say) doing? Why am I bringing these back in the house? Why aren’t they going straight to the Mission Thrift down the road from my workplace– a huge symbolic gesture to accompany my last 8 days at my current job?

What is the best use of my time? Spending hours making a few bucks here and there, organizing and storing this crap, a breeding ground for bugs, dustmites, and psychological burden? Getting my house completely cleared out to the essentials (and the spiritual fortitude it takes to actually let go)?

Some things I do that take more time have payoffs that make them worth it. When I cook a vegan meal or make pancakes or muffins or bake a cake, the appetizing (usually!) food, the removal of additives and other yuckies that will aggravate autoimmune disorders or cancer genes or heart disease down the road, and the nutrition are their own reward. With vegan cooking we also get a side of saving the earth– meat agriculture is harder on our environment than our cars.

When I hang clothes on the line (convert your clothes dryer to solar power for two bucks!) we save about 50 cents and the sun bleaches out stains. We also get another side of saving the earth, since reducing consumption is one of the keys to moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

So. Rogation Day (Welcome to workingmommykimworld, where a million things are always going on at the same time).

I think Father Richard’s sermon is  my answer. I proceed to shorten and bastardize it greatly for the sake of my point.

Rogation Day like most Christian holidays was imposed upon a pagan/druid sacred day and ritual.  Joseph of Arimathea was no fool– he didn’t reinvent the wheel. When in Rome, that is Glastonbury…

Wealthy ‘counselor’ and Jew, maternal uncle Joseph of Arimathaea, supposedly a disciple in secret, requests Christ’s body after the crucifixion so that it may be honorably buried in accordance with Jewish custom. Then he has to hightail it so he hits the friendly godless shores of the British Isles (has much changed?) where they don’t like to write stuff down (no paper trail) but preferred to tell stories to keep the spirit alive.

H’m. As a librarian and student of indigenous culture and given my belief in the importance of human connection, this in many contexts sounds good to me. Though now that the written word is so fluid… it has a spirit of its own, it’s not such a threat as it must have been then.

But anyhoo.

The pagan feast of Rogation involved cleansing the fields of demons with switches, or praying for protection from mold, or walking the boundaries of the parish, depending on where and when you were.

In Britain they ‘beat the bounds’ with switches and then burned the switches (with their demons, presumably). The practice was outlawed in 1547 but in a strange twist Queen Elizabeth I re instituted it but ordered that the boundaries of the parish be walked. What was she thinking? That’s a sincere question.

Father Richard invites the congregation to a symbolic beating of the bounds, including burning the switches in a cookout (ya gots to have food if you’re Episcopalian) after the service.  He says, in part– why are we doing this?  Because it’s fun, because it’s history, because it’s our history, and because it is important to bless our church yard. The church yard is consecrated ground, and a precious part of our ministry. People rest and read in the church yard. Children play in it. It holds the ashes of our beloved dead.
Our homes and yards are a precious part of our daily ministry, even if we don’t call it that or subscribe to a codified system of beliefs from an organized religion or other source — Flylady.net for example. Flylady says to simply bless the world with your stuff, don’t hold on to it and don’t yard sale it, have courage to let it go and make room for more blessings to come back your way.

And home staging wisdom is that you must get rid of all your clutter to show your home.

We all make our houses and yards as comfortable as we can for our families, in accordance with our values, schedules, abilities, aesthetics, budgets, and our families’ needs.

When I was growing up my family’s homes were sometimes almost formal and sometimes clean but centered not around neatness but around people and activities– grandchildren. Visitors. Cocktails. Work space for woodworking or sewing or home office or home business. The almost too big supper table right in the middle of the kitchen.

No matter who or where they were, my grownups were diligent in making their homes presentable and comfortable, and tended their yards and gardens– whether a small suburban lawn or a long acre in West Virginia– with passion and devotion.

Now, my grandmas stayed home, my mother in law stayed home, my sister in law Kim seems to be able to keep her house lovely even though she works– she doesn’t have any little ones yet, but I suspect that if as a working lady she can find time for her arts and her home, she’ll still manage it as a parent. That’s just who she is.

My parents had slave labor (myself and my brother) to help. I haven’t got to those points yet– not staying home, not slave labor– and maybe never will, so while I and my husband don’t lack passion for or devotion to home and garden, I don’t know when or if we’ll ever get to their level of home.

But I take the thought processes and ministry and blessing of everyday housework, home hearth and garden, seriously as often as I can given how freaking tired I usually am after a day or week of work. Cooking and cleaning and yardwork are three of my favorite things, and I love to do them for my family and I love to invite people over. This is the first time I’ve had a house worth inviting folks to in many years, and my first own house ever.
So… back to my original question. Where should all those  yard sale clothes go? And what’s the best use of my time? What do I do? I know I need to dump the stuff. Holding on to it is indicative of a mindset  holding me, holding us, back, spiritually and financially and geographically.  But can I really do it?

Like Father Richard I’m not much worried about demons. At least not literally. But extra crap creates an inviting place for dust, molds and bugs to live and grow. It makes it harder to keep the house neat, adds a huge psychological burden, makes the house less attractive, both in terms of how it looks and how it feels at a gut or energy level, to potential renters or buyers. It makes us a lot less nimble when it’s time to move into what I am almost sure will be a *much* smaller house –but it will be in a place close to heavenly in many ways, which is why we’re willing to make the leap.

And I hear tell it’s not legal to set fires within these here city limits.  So setting fire to it, while it would be a gorgeous spiritual gesture (and I still have BFF’s flamethrower! forgot to give it back!), probably isn’t an option.

So. Absent processions and switches and fires, what do I do?

Rogation day. Cleansing the fields. Walking the borders of my little parish ministry. Praying for protection from mold (which loves to accumulate in extra stuff!).

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