Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Doing the Work

Druids at Stonehenge
I know that for many this phrase - "doing the work" - is difficult, conjuring up images and memories of accidentally abandoned plans and waylaid dreams.  For me, it's probably my favorite part of being religious.

Let me back up for a moment.  When I was a child, my mother, an evangelical Christian with the highest of ideals, did her very best to imprint her religion on our hearts and minds.  We prayed five times a day (morning, meals, and bed-time), memorized bible verses, attended Sunday school on weekends and youth-group meetings Wednesday nights; I spent five years in Catholic school and four at a fundie Lutheran institution.  Unfortunately for her, we were born with an innate skeptical outlook; unwilling to accept the contradictions of the Bible we were taught as infallible fact - but that's a story to be told another time.  The point is, I was raised with a great deal of religion, taught from birth that spirituality is something necessary, essential to a well-lived life - and that ideal has stayed with me ever since.  I often tell people that my mother instilled all the religion in me she dreamed of - from her perspective, it just ended up being the wrong one.

So when I make a habit like hailing the sun each morning, or thanking the spirits of nature that helped provide or sacrifice for the food I'm making, it feels right to me.  Natural.  As if I'm slipping back into a familiar, warm territory where the sun of my childhood shines.  It's why I sometimes have difficulty empathizing with others who are having trouble starting up a daily or weekly practice - to me it's like a balm that just makes all of life better.  Then I remember my own difficulty starting up a workout routine, and suddenly it all makes sense!

All jokes aside, what I'm trying to say is: the work is worth it.  Having a daily practice, offering to the Kindred or honoring Someone in particular, is incredibly beneficial.  My relationship to the Land, to my Ancestors, and to the Deities becomes stronger every day.  It helps me also to stay mindful - since I changed my morning devotional to one honoring the deities and spirits of the dawn, I find I am more aware and more appreciative of the work that the sun does in the world.  After acknowledging Sunne in the morning, I feel Her presence throughout the day - each time I look out the window and catch a glimpse of sun-dappled leaves, each time a ray of light enters the house and warms my skin, I remember Her - because I made the time to acknowledge Her.  It's the same with each and every spirit and deity that I make the time to honor.  My house spirit gets milk once a week, but the creek I walk over when I take my daughter to school is greeted twice a day - which spirit do you think I am closer to?  Do the work, relationships will come, and you will be rewarded.

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