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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Past

*Nearby creek

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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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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: 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