I do hold one spiritual name of Lalitambika, given to me through Swami Ramananda’s meditation/dream connection to Swami Satchidananda during my yoga teacher certification. Despite the melodious meaning of this name: gentle, innocent, divine mother, I am no Woman who Runs with Wolves, nor the solitary activist like Julia Butterfly. My voice doesn’t make the heart tremble when it is heard like Maya Angelou’s, nor does my written word bring tears to the eyes like the poetry of Mary Oliver….rather the nickname that kind of sticks to me is Square, Squarie, or ShareBear. I am in no rush to fight the minotaur in the middle of the labyrinth but would rather smell the roses along the way and perhaps bring them to my opponent as an offering, or perhaps to tickle him under the chin with. I do have my windmills to fight like the rest of us. Like in Don Quioxte, the windmills are something so much larger and fiercer than their literal selves. The dragon that I wish to slay is the fear that no one will care to come warm themselves by my humble flame. And yet, I must ShareBear both my worst and best parts forward, for the one or the many whom will eventually find a speck of inspiration and appreciation of the power to gather through these words. I will call it Squaring around, as even in my sacred worship of sitting in circles and praying, I never want to fall prey to dogma, and taking any one thing so seriously that there can’t be room for joy or laughter. Even the victims, we must all keep drinking the laughter medicine, or else our perpetrators will have defeated us. How can we find the fluidity in the right angles and straight lines that are constantly bombarding our lives to conform this way or that? We gather and we share. No matter what denomination, nomination, classification, that you have/are, gathering with others is a primal need that serves all of our hearts and makes the whole of the square soften into a buttery piece of warm toast.
I have been fortunate to have discovered early on that the more I give, the more abundant I feel and the happier I am. I adore throwing parties, and finding any kind of excuse to make connection to my circles of friends. While I have shamelessly used my birthday as an excuse to get gifts, be honored, get drunk, spend money on myself, the one thing I have yet to do is hold a prayer meeting or inipi ceremony for myself. I have always felt like there are such bigger things that need prayers and attention within my community. But within the Native American Church family that I have, it is very common for people to have prayer services for themselves. If nothing else, it is a manner in which to give gratitude for one’s life and to celebrate. Though often people call meetings when they are in need.
My sister and I are very close. We have had more laughter between us than most people and the gods have seen it fit to bless both of or houses with beautiful and smart children. We even work together. I don’t think she meant to say this is a way that would make me feel bad at all, but she did mention the other day that I have no problem taking time for myself. It didn’t necessarily feel like a compliment either. But I have been thinking a lot about this…the importance of taking time for ourselves. In my mind, it is one of the most important things we can do for others, take the space we need to center, gather rest, get well, dream. It makes us better for others when we can take the time to know ourselves.
I tried to get out of having a sweat for myself by making excuses about the snow. Where the sweat is on my property, the woods shade the ground and it is the last place on our ten acres to thaw after winter. After this particularly cold winter, the thought of having to shovel all of that snow kind of made me want to cry and so I told my Uncle who will be running the ceremony for me exactly that. However, he encouraged me to stick with my original thought to have the sweat on my birthday.
I’ve spent the last week shoveling snow and breaking ice in order for the sweat to be possible and while it has been a physically arduous process, I have already learned so much. Being outside with the warm winds, clearing away my stone wall, finding the moss still green underneath…all of these things have made me feel so fortunate. I have thought about our first people, all indigenous people of our Earth and how resilient and ingenious they were to survive the elements. I have thought a lot about my Uncle Bill and the many prayers we laid down here over the years and how many of them have been answered. I have thought about the seasons and how the winter has been clinging to us not quite ready to unveil the ground beneath the snow. And yet, how the birds are singing louder because they know spring is coming.
Once I embraced the idea of gathering in prayer with my friends on my birthday, my heart fills full already for the opportunity to thank them and to celebrate the changing of this season. Both my husband and children came to help me shovel out the sweat and just knowing their good, sweet energy has already touched this prayer makes me happy.
So I say yes to creating the space for myself to share my gratitude, to ask for blessings and good health for my loved ones and my self. There are so many character traits I admire: vulnerability, strength, compassion, wisdom, etc., but I think integrity might be the one I hold highest. And the beauty in that is that we all get to decide for ourselves what we will hold truthful towards. Allowing myself to feel my self-worth, is not something I have always owned. And so it is empowering to follow through with my original thought to have a prayer meeting for myself. It is empowering to know that I will have this space and be unconditionally supported by those who love me. And within that space I can ask Creation for the thing I want most which is for people to wake up to what precious Life we have around us, how fleeting it is and how it is crying out to be preserved so that it may continue to serve us,,, the water, the trees, the fire, the air and the earth…they all are asking for this.
If I can love myself enough to take care of my heart , my mind and my body, I can love Mother Earth enough to consider her in all decisions that I make. Blessed be.