Posted in Spiritual Sundays

Spiritual Sunday: Some Things Are Sacred

Note:  I’m playing around with a new look for the blog since my previous theme has been “retired”.  Please excuse the construction until I get things figured out.  Thanks!  And with that, read on! 

Here’s some fine print about reading my Spiritual Sunday posts, should you wish to respect me.  🙂

This weekend I went camping with a group of friends. Right off the bat, I have to say that camping (especially when you accompany it with hiking) isn’t ever something I would choose to do on my own.  It’s all instigated by my hubby.  My first camping trip was with him, and every camping trip I’ve been on since has been accompanied by him.

 That being said, I always find myself enjoying the camping trips.  There is definitely something to be said about being out in the “cheap showiness of nature” (as many put it), getting away from civilization to clear you mind, and getting back to basics.

 What I always enjoy the most by far, though, is the company these camping trips keep.  It is my sense of community, my coming together at a common table, my sense of a congregation.  For a moment in time, people from all walks of life come together and share a common experience and share stories.  It’s a beautiful thing.

 When I first met my then-boyfriend, now-husband, he gave me the much-cherished gift of allowing me into a group of friends and family who made a tradition out of going camping at a friend’s property in the middle of a lush, verdant, isolated valley twice a year (in the spring and fall).  I attended these camping trips for ten years, until, like all good things, it came to an end (the property ended up getting developed).

 It was a bittersweet goodbye:  I was thankful for the memories and the wonderful friends I had made over the years, but I was so very sad that I wouldn’t be able to come back to the beautiful region and see those people year after year anymore.  We made a halfhearted vow that we’d figure out a way to resurrect it, but as of now, three years after the fact, it hasn’t happened.

 During those camping trips, we had our rituals.  Out of respect to the event, I won’t divulge all of them here.  In addition to those rituals, there were things I looked forward to seeing every year, like an old long-distance friend that you rarely get to visit but fall quickly into routine with after reconnecting.  They came to be symbols of calm for me—constants I could count on to be there each and every time I visit.  Such a contrast to my ever-changing world when I’m not camping.

 You can only imagine, then, what a trip down memory lane it was when similar symbols appeared during this most recent camping trip.  It was neither in the same place nor with the same group of people (which I’ll get to later), but the similarities struck me just the same:

*Wooded mountain view
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Present

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Past

*Nearby creek

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Present

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Past

*Secluded, easy-to-miss road to turn off on that leads to campground next to horses

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Present

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Past

I didn’t realize until right at that moment exactly how much I missed the people and the place from the past. The strength of the emotional longing struck me so hard that tears came to my eyes and I had to take a minute to compose myself.

 The second night of the camping weekend, I remember looking up and just marveling at the multitude of stars in the clear night sky above.  It was yet another similarity, and I brought it up to my husband.  He suggested something that sounds so simple, but with so much meaning: A night walk.  Just a leisurely stroll, all flashlights off, guided only by starlight while we trudged down the dirt road a few feet to the pavement road.  A walk where we’d point to a specific star in the sky, strike a pose, and stay frozen in that position on the side of the road until a car passed by.  A walk where, sometimes, because we knew just how rarely a car drove on it, one of us from the group would lie down in the middle of the road.  One where the rule was you had to have a drink in hand while walking.

…one where we only ever did it at the camping trips that I reminisced about; the camping trips of days gone by; the camping trips that will never happen again exactly the same way.

 I hold those particular camping trips very close to my heart. They were the camping trips I very much came to be an adult in, the ones where, no matter what, I was accepted just as I am and I was expected to do the same to others.  The ones where I entered a complete stranger and left feeling like I was a part of a family.  Those camping trips—and the rituals that came with them—are ones so special that they can only be done in the circumstances I remember fondly, no other place. Which is why I had to take a moment of pause before answering my husband:  “I’m sorry.  I can’t.  Some things are just sacred.” He needed no other explanation.  He just took it at face value, gave an understanding nod, and went on with the rest of the night.

 As for me, I sat back and enjoyed the rest of the camping trip, letting the whispers of the past comfort me and wondering what new traditions would be born from what we were doing in the present.

To Holding Things Sacred and Creating New Traditions,

Violet

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Posted in Spiritual Sundays

Spiritual Sunday: Why Me?

The title of the post may be misconstrued as a desperate plea. Let me assure you that that’s not the case.

Now that that’s out of the way, some logistical mumbo jumbo, as I haven’t done a Spiritual Sunday post in awhile:

Spiritual Sundays are my musings on religion or lack thereof.  Because this will undoubtedly be a hot-button topic, I ask that all commenters be respectful to everyone else participating in the conversation. It takes a lot of guts for me to talk about something so personal, and I’d like to think that the blog followers I attract are people who are good people in the world.  I know that in reality that it’s not humanly possible to completely control whether or not someone is kind, but a girl can dream, can’t she?  Anyhow, even though these will probably be the most difficult posts for me to write, I think they are also the most necessary for me to write.  Bear with me.

Thank you!  And with that, read on!

 

I’ve been pretty glum this last week. I specifically use the word “glum” and not depressed because as someone who has been diagnosed with clinical depression (which I’ve gotten under control), I know the difference.

Glum

 

In life, I’ve been dealt a pretty lucky hand: I have caring friends, a fiercely loyal family despite numerous communication flaws, a faithful husband who loves me, and the cutest doggie that provides me so much happiness. I have a roof over my head, electricity, clothes, and enough food to not go hungry. So far (knock on wood…we’ll get into that more later) my life hasn’t seen huge tragedy.  Then I start to wonder/panic–what if nothing bad has happened because horrible tragedy is to come?  I can’t even imagine how I’ll handle it, and in the meantime I “overcorrect”:  wincing at pretty much everything while in the passenger seat of the car, making much much more of a point to make sure I tell my hubby I love him in case it’s the last time I see him, fretting about every little thing out of place.

 

My friends and family, though, have definitely had their share and more of tragedy. There have been injuries through accidents.  There have been financial hardships. There have been harsh breakups and abuse. Most overwhelmingly, there have been many who have lost loved ones, and not even through natural causes. Death has come their way by means of cancer, suicide, war, and natural disasters. These are people taken before their time.

 

It breaks my heart to see so much suffering among loved ones. On a larger scale, it makes me sad to see so much worldwide suffering—shooting victims, those who suffer extreme poverty, etc. My overactive mind thinks a lot about these things, and even more so in the last week because a few more lives have been lost to various unnatural causes.

 

So I ask, “Why? Why me?” Why is it that I’ve been lucky enough to get through life so far without something so cripplingly awful? Why do some people have so many bad things happen to them, over and over again, in a short span of time? What do I do differently to deserve the better hand?

 

The answer is nothing. They did nothing bad to deserve pain, and I did nothing good enough to warrant so many blessings in my life.That doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t ache for these people. I want to take the pain away, and I feel so helpless in these situations. It’s not that I’m asking God to have these horrible things happen to me instead. Not by a longshot. On the contrary, I wish it would be so there wouldn’t be as much suffering for those around me.

 

During these times, I think of the theory that if there were never any suffering, one would never be able to know that they’re happy in comparison. “Without great tragedy, there is no great happiness.” Or something like that. I’m not sure how I feel about that right now. Right now all I can think about is how I want all this suffering to stop, if even just for a day.

 

And I continue to count my blessings, and be there the best I can be for those who have had those blessings taken away. Maybe that’s the best I can do.

 

To a Lack of Suffering, and Knowing Which Blessings You Have in Your Life,

Violet

Posted in Spiritual Sundays

Spiritual Sunday: Back from Wintering

I think I did an odd sort of time travel in the days since I wrote my last post.  Last weekend, I held an event called Winter Melt, aptly named because it’s a celebration of mine and my husband’s marriage, which so happened to fall on the last day of winter.  The Winter Melt, then, falls on the days when the calendar on the northern hemisphere says the seasons switch from winter to spring.  But more on that wonderful event later.

After the Melt, hubby and I traveled to Banff, Alberta (which, if you’re Bachelor/ette addicts like I am, is famous for being featured in both Sean’s season and Jillian’s season), specifically for the fact that their winter usually lasts well into the end of March.  In fact, there is a sign in Banff that advertises that it’s winter until April.  Some of you may hate me for saying this (I’m looking at you, Chicago-area readers!), but I felt like I was robbed of a proper winter this year.  Snow was scarce in my area, and I’m such a winter girl that I was desperately craving below-freezing temperatures and the beauty in the stillness of a perfect winter wonderland.

So off we went to Banff, and perfect winter wonderland would be a gross understatement that would fail to capture the utter beauty of the town.  More on that later, too.  With pictures, no less!  🙂  Then when I returned home, the temperature had reached the 70s, which is balmy t-shirt weather to us locals.  The sun shined rather annoyingly in my eyes, signalling that spring had come at last.  I feel like we did spring last weekend, rewinded to winter, than fast forwarded to the thick of spring.  Weird.

And now I’m back to blogging, and I’m happy to be back here.  I’d like to wish a happy Easter to those who celebrate it.  Today brings about a benchmark for me, because it was on the Easter of 2012 that listlovelaugh launched into the blogosphere.  It was my first post, and I remember getting such a rush of adrenaline from doing it.

This year is very considerably different.  I didn’t do anything to celebrate Easter (in stark contrast to concentrating on developing my religious beliefs for Lent last year).  I didn’t give up anything for Lent.  Easter came and went quietly, carrying on my daily routine by grocery shopping and doing chores around the house.  (I was going to make deviled eggs, but since the party I was going to bring it to got cancelled, not even teensy part of Easter was carried out.  There’s always tomorrow, though.)  This blog post is so much less thought out than my first ever blog post last Easter.

I do, however, love the sense of rebirth that Easter brings, and I think that’ll carry through both in my blog (since I essentially took a two-week break) and my life.  Winter gave me just the jolt I needed to appreciate the gifts of nature to both soothe and awaken my spirit.  And this is where the somewhat-religious, but more spiritual, part comes in.  I may have brought it up before, but I keep remembering a conversation between me and a coworker after a particularly beautiful snowfall.  She’d come in from her lunch break, which she spent outside watching the flakes accumulate on the ground.  With a big smile, she wondered, “How could anyone look outside right now and honestly say they don’t believe in God?”  I remember thinking that over and over again in Banff as I experienced one breathtaking scene after another.  So I’ll leave you with that, dear readers.  I look forward to blogging more often in the upcoming days!  🙂

To Your Own Beautiful Rebirth!
Violet

Posted in Spiritual Sundays

Spiritual Sunday: An Image to Maintain

Some people’s words are harsh,
But I prefer ones that are tamer.
So before proceeding with this post,
Please read this disclaimer.
Thank you!  🙂

So I know in the past, I’ve written about the mixing of public image and religion.  Recent developments have gotten me thinking about this subject again.

I belong to a choir that labels itself as a community choir who gives back to the community through service.  Sounds like a noble mission, and I agree with that.

What got me thinking, though, is that part of what we label as community service is singing at a church.  While I do consider myself religious, I’m a little stumped as to how a church counts as community service.  We do also sing at nursing/retirement homes, have a charity concert for the local food bank, sing for military appreciation days, which sound like a more legitimiate community thing.  We’ve also sung at the library, which, although was fun, I also don’t really consider a community service.

Is it perhaps because churches make up such a large community?  It is true that each church is like a community in and of itself.

However, there are other communities out there that I think could benefit from a choir concert that don’t have to do with religion.  I was told we had an image to maintain:  one that reflects a wholesome community group.  Again, why does that automatically equal church?  I would love to branch out and use our talents/hobbies for good.  Maybe we could do benefit concerts, if not to benefit our own community (contributions to a homeless shelter, funding for music programs in education, etc.), then another community that could use the money: storm help for those on the east coast, for example.

I know I’m missing things, but it’s getting late and my ideas are getting hazy with sleep.  What do you guys think?  What are some non-religious communities that you think could be benefitted with music or money that could be raised with a choir concert? A community consists of much more than its religious parts, and I would love to be the group that makes that sentiment known.  I strive to be part of a group that is inclusive rather than exclusive.

To Finding the True Meaning of a “Good Image”,

Violet

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Sundays

Spiritual Sunday: Go Team COMMUNITY!

Gimme a D!  Gimme an I!  Gimme an S-C-L-A-I-M-E-R!  What does that spell?  DISCLAIMER!

This time last year, tragedy befell my little community.  Life really hasn’t been the same since.  I found out about it during a friend’s Super Bowl party, and now I feel like Super Bowl can’t come around again without thinking of the horrific events that took place.  Super Bowl Sunday has become what December 14th has become for Newtown, Connecticut; what April 20th has become for Columbine/Littleton, Colorado; what September 11th has become for New York City.  It’s a day of silence, introspection, respect for what was lost.

christmas box angelThe book that inspired statues built at many cemeteries, including the one in my town.

It’s been said that following a tragedy, people start to rally around their faiths, moreso than before.  I believe it’s because faith gives them a comfort to hold onto, a hope that perhaps victims are no longer suffering, for a plea to be healed from the pain they’re feeling, to show victims’ families the strength of a community of support.

I know that certainly happened with me.  After that unforgettable day, I wept, I prayed, I had a long conversation with God about countless things.  After spending most of my life being pretty hush-hush about my religious beliefs, all of a sudden, I became one of the people who posted YouTube videos of church hymns and posted Bible verses as a Facebook status.  I went to church for strength and for healing.  I lit remembrance candles at an altar for the first time in my life.  But most of all, I attended church because I knew that community was just as emotionally fragile as I was; they knew what was going on, and they were experiencing much of the same things as I was.  This religious rebirth only lasted for a few weeks, but it was certainly intense.

The important thing I took away from all this was that I was how lucky I was to live in a community that came together to support each other and help one another grieve.  Although church and spirituality had a good hand in helping me through that trial, what I think really helped me was getting together with the friends in my community whom I’ve known for a long time.  The funny thing is, during those times, we only touched on the event briefly.  What was more important about us getting together was to prove to each other that there are still good people in the world, that good friends still existed, and really to just have a sense of normal while we all walked through a haze together.  In those moments, I’d like to think there was just an all-around appreciation of one another, just for being there.

I’ve never been a person that’s been big into sports, but I gather many sports fanatics garner similar feelings of community when they get together with people who are fans of the same sports team.  It gives them a common belief, a common goal, a sharing of disappointments and joys.

So today, on this Super Bowl Sunday, I’d like to point out the winner for all of us:  Team Community.  Thank goodness for the people in our lives that get us through so much.

Hoping Your Community is a Winner Too,

Violet