A New Book of Days

“The holidays.” Stretching from mid-November through the first moments of January, they loom large and fill us with hope or dread or that odd mixture of emotion that marks so many momentous occasions. Regardless of your religious persuasion, I am sure it is near impossible to avoid the sense that time takes on a different texture for a couple of months. On top of the business of life that fills the other 5/6 of the year, we are swept up in the madness of the season. Maybe, just maybe, we realize that there is something more to the giving of thanks and the birth of Christ and the birth of a new year than turkey and presents and schlepping to see the relatives.

If it is hard to truly observe holidays whose meanings get lost in all of the tinsel meant to celebrate it all, how do we find the space to commemorate the special days that get swallowed by the mundane hum of life?

I think about this on the day after an in between sort of day. Halloween has certainly been co-opted by every industry that stands to make money off of orange and black, and it’s easy to get caught up with the excitement of trying on a different identity when we put on a costume, but for most of us  it is just a diversion as the leaves begin to fall.

A few years ago, the Samhain, the beginning of the Celtic New Year and the day to honor the dead, was not just a day to overdo it on candy corn for me. It was a day of ritual and remembrance and my friends and I took it seriously (painfully seriously). My perspective on my spirituality has shifted since then, and in addition to remembering those who have passed on, I can also remember fondly the way I (desperately, perhaps) sought magic on the night when the veil between the worlds was the thinnest.

My connection to Samhain is tenuous at best these days.  The more I explore different spiritual traditions, the more deities I subtract from my pantheon.  Instead of memorizing the traits of various Celtic goddesses, I have been amazed to realize the essential Oneness of the Divine.

Regardless of this renewed perspective, however, I am still seeking ways for my beliefs to inflect my life, to soak into the corners of my day when I am still likely to be caught in the old patterns of selfishness and pettiness and a general lack of inspiration. 

That makes me think about preserving the wonder of All Hallow’s Eve and so many other holy days that have been swallowed by the public calendar that makes no room for the days that mark minor miracles.  The models have already been connstructed; the Church, for example, has given us countless saints’ days.  How can we recreate our own calendars to make a place for all of the traditions and wonders that mark our lives?  How can we cultivate just a little more stillness and connect to brilliant mysteries that mark every day, not just the 25th of December?

6 thoughts on “A New Book of Days

  1. blisschick November 1, 2008 / 10:00 am

    An excellent question and it made me think of the seasons where I kept daily haiku or poetry journals. I never felt so very connected to all of life, and I have to wonder why I stopped? (Perhaps because that is in our nature — stopping things that are wonderful…)

    Haiku especially does it. Those moments of just being, just sitting so still, trying to capture the essence of one moment and then the next and then the next. I truly believe that Haiku could “cure” people of depression more effectively than any pill or exercise or therapy out there.

    So I guess the key to your new “Book of Days” would be the stopping and the noticing. Damn! Mindfulness comes up yet again! 🙂

  2. Quiet November 3, 2008 / 5:11 pm

    I agree a little with blisschick – living in the moment. Writing haiku provides focus. Not everyone has a gift for words, however.

    I like reading your explorations, gwce (an acronym of your LONG name!) I read somewhere that all faith shares the common touch of kindness and respect for others.

    The choice of path is individual and you’ll know yours when you find it. Christian faith or consciousness has much to offer if you can separate it from the political Church whether Catholic or Protestant.

    Some Churches provide community and connectedness in better ways than others as well. That is part of faith and essential to happiness, I believe.

    Maybe your path at present is simply that of the seeker?

    Love reading your blog!

  3. ecoyogi November 3, 2008 / 5:23 pm

    I too have shifted my spirituality a lot. And it boils down to what you and blisschick evoke: conscious attention to life, mindfulness. I have been thinking, like blisschick, about the year I wrote a haiku a day. I think it began in the fall about three years ago. This season does bring me into the present moment and in it I find a sense of the rarefied right along with the mundane. I’m grateful I can take time for Being. My intention this holiday season is to stay with that, and to not rain on anybody else’s parade if they’re into the traditional holiday celebrations. Kindness, respect for others. Yes, Quiet, thank you.

  4. Quiet November 4, 2008 / 5:08 am

    I love the avatar you’ve given me, Epiphany. The Good Lady? It’s beautiful. Hope it comes again.


  5. Lisa November 4, 2008 / 9:41 pm

    A most excellent post! Thank you!

    I hosted my first ever Samhain gathering this past Friday night. I really had no idea what I was doing, but it all turned out well and my goddess friends had a good time. It was definitely something they needed – as the party was supposed to end around 9pm and they stayed ’til almost midnight!

    Since then, however, I have become aware of my need to continually ‘seek’ another source for my spirituality. I’ve tried on many hats and now see myself looking a bit like Carmen Miranda! But, I think that’s what works for me right now. No one answer. Melding it all together. Keeping what fits, letting go of the rest.

    What a rich, amazing world of cultures, traditions, spirituality, and rituals we have to pull from! Many ways in which to fill our well.

    Blessings on your journey. 🙂

  6. girlwhocriedepiphany November 6, 2008 / 8:09 am

    It always amazes me when certain posts really strike a chord with people – I was in such a rush when I wrote this, but I guess it was just that sense of rush that resonated with people.

    @BlissChick – The haiku idea is a great one. Isn’t it amazing that the magic formula doesn’t necessary involved ceremony and ritual but just BEING THERE? Seems too easy sometimes…

    @Quiet – The Good Lady is a happy accident of some sort, but I was certainly glad to see her – and you – on my page!

    @EcoYogi – The “rarefied right along with the mundane.” You are so right, that really is the key. What’s that James Taylor song? “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”

    @Lisa – Welcome! It is so liberating and yet more than a little scary to feel like a constant seeker, isn’t it? While so many can find a home in one tradition there are the magpies like us who need a little from here, a little from there. What an amazing tapestry there is to weave, however!

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