Hey friends! Thank you for the rich discussion in the last post, on communicating with our elders. I’m always so humbled and grateful for the open, honest reflections that people share in this space. And that’s part of why this weekly practice of blogging continues.
Speaking of practices, I’m on a mission to cultivate more traditions and rituals in my life. Little anchors and measuring sticks for relating to change, and the passage of time, in a slightly different way. (Note: I love the weekly butcher-shop ritual described in this gorgeous essay by a dynamic/post-/questioning vegan; link via Napaquetzalli and Ernesto.)
One ritual that I’ve been recalling lately dates back to 2008/early 2009, when I lived in Central Square, back in Cambridge. My friend Jen turned me on to this weekly program on an independent radio station. “The Secret Spot.” Old-school and R&B jams: from Erykah Badu to Teddy Pendergrass, D’Angelo, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Lauryn Hill, Al Green. I LOVED The Secret Spot. And on Saturday nights, I would light some candles in the living room, turn down the lights, cozy up with a blanket in my favorite armchair, and listen. Sing along, too, if the apartment was empty (which it often was — this being Saturday night, when my fellow twentysomething housemates were typically engaged in more age-appropriate activities).
Of course, daily sitting meditation has been a life-changing tradition (if I can call it that, which I’m not sure I can). I confess, I was probably more religious about The Secret Spot than I am about my, um, religion. (Again, if I can call it that, which I’m not sure I can.) For inspiration in keeping it up on the daily, I sometimes think about something I heard Roshi Joan Halifax say, in a talk at the Wisdom 2.0 conference. She mentioned that every single morning at 5am, no matter where she is in the world, no matter how jetlagged or underslept, she sits and meditates. Period. And this for, like, decades. That’s where I want to be. And slowly, I’m making my way there, digging deeper and deeper to let the roots of the tradition take hold.
Do you have favorite rituals that you keep up, or have kept up in the past?
Last night, Ryan and I tended to the seedling of a new one. Every full moon night, no matter what the weather, we’ll take a stroll. Doesn’t have to be long and epic. Just get us into the outdoors, to acknowledge the changing earth, moon, and sun, and our changing lives. For this, our second full-moon walk, we visited a small stretch of a”greenbelt” of Greenhaven, in Sacramento. Chain-link overpasses; a tunnel like the ribcage of a big beast; traffic colors echoing the houses with their Christmas lights. Some beautiful trees, stretching out their capillary branches. It was so cloudy we couldn’t even see the moon. But of course, that didn’t matter.
This time I didn’t much bother trying to take pictures of us. As you can see from last month’s photos (taken at the ocean on a freezing-cold night), we are a little too sleepy for the camera.
If you feel so moved, why don’t you join us next month for the full-moon walk? In person, or wherever in the world you are. See you then. :)
The full moon walk is a great idea! If I lived there, I’d join you in a heart beat : )
When I lived in the East Bay and practiced with a sangha, we started a tradition of doing full moon walks as well. A group of us would start out at Redwood Park (I think that’s the name, if I remember it correctly) up in the Oakland hills, walk in silence for about half an hour to a bench that overlooked a marvelous view of the valley on the other side (looking toward Lafayette). We’d bring a mindfulness bell too, so every 5 minutes or so we’d ring that and stop to pause for a few moments. On the walk back, we’d share in conversation and hot chocolate or tea from a thermos. I loved that ritual…
Daaaaaamn, that sounds like an amazing full-moon-walk version! Do you know if they still do it? The hot chocolate, the silence, the bell … all sound fabulous.
How was your retreat/session? Hope you are feeling great, around this time of the Christian/calendar new year. :)
Every morning starts with 2 cups of black coffee and 2 onion bagels. Traditions don’t get much more satisfying than that.
A few years ago, we finally and firmly jettisoned christmas from our home. It feels great, but I have to admit that while that particular holiday never resonated with me, getting rid of it did leave a “ritual void” that we still haven’t quite filled. We’re trying to find an adequate replacement for it still. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I’m not sure if that sangha is even still in existence, but you can check! It was called the Fragrant Earth Sangha… this was around 2001 that we did that…
Rohatsu sesshin was absolutely wonderful — seven days of deep silence in the company of the sangha. Delicious.
Hope you’re having a marvelous holiday with your loved ones!
katie, just stumbled on this — girl, i still listen to the secret spot (we’re in india for break and i have tuned in and danced around my in-laws’ kitchen to the sweet sounds of al green, jackson 5, and so on). hope life is filled with fantastic adventures, and hope to see you in the new year.
jen, i am so glad you stumbled this way. as i was writing it i said to myself, “maybe jen will read this! hi, jen!”
as for my “fantastic adventures,” i did dance around a nicaraguan kitchen to a temptations greatest hits cd that i gifted to my host family. (they laughed at my moves, but in a friendly way.) this parallel with your winter break pleases me much.
it would be so great to see you in DC! or anyplace. hope 2011 brings you many joys, great and small.
I’m just getting started with a blog dedicated to exploring all things ritual. I loved your post about the Full Moon Walk…this is coincidentally the first ritual I’ve chosen of the many I intend to sample! So effin cool, right? So simple yet reliably mind-blowing every time. Thank you, and please share more ritual nuggets!