This morning we slept in until 7:30. That may not seem incredibly early to some (it isn’t all that early for my husband and I), but it’s a vacation compared to the day of surgery and the first day of recovery.
We woke to discover that my kid was experiencing some sharp pain, a common experience after top surgery. My husband and my kid’s mom stepped into action, assessing where the pain was and how it rated on a scale from 1 to 10. They administered a bit more pain medication, and then called the hospital to speak with a nurse.
Meanwhile, I started to feel myself getting tense.
I came into the living room of our extended-stay hotel room, where my husband and I sleep (pullout beds are an assault to one’s back, so we’ve resorted to pulling the 4 inch mattress onto the floor). I sat on the couch and thought of my shrine. I miss my home, more so even than on normal business trips. I miss the accessories of my daily practice, the smell of my incense, and the sanctity of my space.
I clutched the small pouch I wear around my neck. Inside is a piece of wood which was collected at the place where Isaac Bonewits’s ashes were spread, a gift to me from a big-hearted ADF Druid. On the outside is Brighid’s cross.
I held this little pouch and thought about my patron and about Isaac, and I prayed. I prayed that my kid would be spared the pain, that the Goddess would be near, and that She would provide a sense of peace. I didn’t have much time to pray, or to do any sort of elaborate ritual, but neither were necessary.
You can open the heart with just a few simple words.
Why a daily practice matters
It becomes clear in moments of great stress why a consistent daily practice is so important.
When I’m home, I do ritual every morning. My ritual, as I’ve written about before, is built around an ADF liturgy. There are short forms of this liturgy and very long forms. But the length or structure of one’s personal liturgy isn’t as important (in my opinion) as is the ease with which that the liturgy can become internalized.
My daily practice has carved a groove deep into my consciousness. It has created an awareness of the presence of the Kindred — the Divine as I recognize Them — that I can call upon in a moment’s notice. I may not engage in the same sort of ritual working, but I can connect with Them nonetheless.
And that is why a daily practice matters.
Allowing my practice to be rooted in liturgical language is useful to me because it provides me with phrases that can be memorized and called upon when needed. My liturgical phrases are cues for the heart to soften, for the mind to quicken, or for the body to release whatever tension it’s been holding.
For example, when I light Brighid’s candle at home I say or speak internally these words:
“From land to land, from hand to hand, from flame to flame.”
This reminds me that the fire in my little Zippo lighter was given to be from a Druid who visited Kildare, and who brought back with her the flame of the Goddess. Using those words gives me a sense of connection to both my tradition and to a sacred place.
When I extinguish the flame I say,
“The fire of Brighid is the flame in my heart.”
This reminds me that, although the external fire may go out, the internal fire remains.
By speaking these words daily, I’m able to create a deep, meaningful practice. Then, when I’m sitting in some drab room in a corporate hotel, I can recall those words, say them under my breath or in my mind, and remember that feeling of reverence and sanctity.
The Fire Burns On
After a few phone calls, we learned that the pain is normal, and that there’s nothing to worry about. The morning went on as planned, with the kid reclining in bed and the rest of us trying to keep on top of our other responsibilities.
But there was a fire burning in my heart again. All it took was a few words to remind me of that.
Do you have simple phrases that connect you to a regular practice? Is your tradition liturgical, or do you incorporate some kind of steady ritual language or form into your daily practice?
What words come to you in moments of worry?
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