When I envisioned this blog project and thought up Place as a quarter I had ideas about getting in touch with the earth: its plants, animals, spirits. I wanted to get back in touch with parts of me that haven’t had much exercise in the last decade or so; the pieces of myself I encountered when I went hiking in Alaska, went fishing with my father, or marked seasons by the skies. I wanted to learn about indigenous peoples. I wanted to learn about this place called Washington.
But this quarter has been about one thing, and one thing only it seems: REST. With rest comes simplicity, less, letting go, and silence. My own practices have simplified. I’ve been sick every other week it seems, and the kids too. I’ve had to strip down to what is essential in running my house. I’ve been writing less. From several sources, human and other, I’ve heard I need to stop doing, rest, be quiet. I’ve come to accept that. 2012 might be the year I don’t join things or try to start something new or move anywhere. There are some seeds that have been planted, but I’m not going to talk publicly about them yet.
What Place has turned into has been heavily influenced by my reading on Shinto, an indigenous Japanese practice that seems slightly shamanistic, mingled with Buddhism, and…. something indefinable that I find at the core of the traditions I love.
Shinto believes in kami, spirit, and kami reside in everything and everyone. Purification, honor, and prayer are central components in Shinto practice. I have taken to clapping and bowing in front of my outside altar when I sit and do my very simple practice: clap, clap, bow, breathe, chant, breathe, listen, offer thanks to the spirits of the land and to the spirits that work with me, clap, bow, refresh the water offering. It can take 5 minutes if I’m short on time, beset by children, or not feeling well; it can last as long as feels appropriate if I have more space.
Nothing sexy is happening in my spiritual life. In fact, I don’t feel all that much; I don’t feel particularly connected. But that’s part of a practice – I am practicing, every day. Hopefully, by going through the motion and putting in the time, when whatever needs rest in me is fully rested and healed I’ll be ready for what comes next. That doesn’t mean I’ll abandon simplicity or householding, but hopefully I’ll have created a stronger, sounder container for holding more, whatever that more is.
In my resources section I have listed some books that I’ve been reading if you’re interested in knowing more.