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Each Day a Ceremony

What we can relate to is what we see and walk among. Any new religion, any new way of seeing, will probably grow from the ground where we are. It will emerge from something small that demands our attention; something we love; something animate with the spirit of life.

-from Wise Words: Small Religions at Offerings from the Wellspring

Here in Oregon the delineation between seasons is often unclear. I suppose the seasons fade into each other gradually in most places: but here they seem almost to coexist simultaneously, one season entering quietly and spreading out alongside another, which withdraws slowly and silently over many weeks. Winter and spring are embracing now: the nights are cold, the mornings shrouded in fog and beaded with dew. But the daffodils are blooming in the park, and the Daphne's fragrance is so sweet it's almost painful.

I wonder sometimes if the ambiguity of seasons in the Pacific Northwest is partly responsible for my struggle to observe the holy days on the neo-pagan wheel of the year for so long. I don't really do structured rituals anymore: they feel forced. For a time I wondered if this meant I'm not really spiritual after all.

But I've come to understand for me there's no distinction between a holy day and a mundane day: or rather, every day is a holy day, full of unfolding and birth and collapse and death. The sacred life is lived with sacredness in each day, each moment, each breath, even when we're preoccupied with something else.

These days I'm aware of the current of the sacred running always underneath the busyness of so-called mundane life. At every moment a part of me is tuned into it, thrumming with it, the way it is when we first fall in love with someone and a part of us is thinking of them, shivering with excitement, no matter what we are doing, no matter who we are with.

And I suppose spirituality IS a kind of being in love. In love with something more than the people we are close to, in love with more than ourselves, in love with more than we can see. I'm in love with the spiral of the seasons, the beauty that rises from the earth and fades and rises again. With the living spirits of everything around me, of snowdrops emerging from the mud and violets exhaling sweetness along the sidewalk, the soft fur of willow buds and the tassel-like flowers of maples trees.

If the purpose of ceremony is connection with the divine, or with the unseen, then every day has its own small ceremonies: taking time to breathe, greeting each new bloom with reverence, listening to the hum of life in all things. I think, for me, this is enough.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

-from Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day"

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Image by Annie Spratt

Michelle Simkins

polytheist . writer . maker . witch

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