The 21st has come and gone. A new quarter begins.
I stood at the sink washing the dishes, looking out at the stump and bush from which the Horned One was staring at me. I apologized that I would be neglecting him. He continues to peek out at me. My instincts tell me to greet the land and offer milk and mince pies, but that just doesn’t….. seem Christian.
So I sit and stew about this conflict. My sensibilities have changed since last I practiced Christianity exclusively. I tried, I really tried, but my deepest religious and spiritual experiences were almost always of a different nature. I tried to fit my experiences into a Christian context and then I gave up. So do I try to mingle them together now? Do I ignore my sensibilities and what I’ve come to experience – my allies and gods? That seems rude and unwise. But Christianity is quite clear about several things – not having any other Gods besides Yahweh and Jesus being one of those things. (I know – they’re the same, but see? My sensibilities are different.)
Standing at the sink I decided to talk to Jesus. I was always told to do that, to talk to Jesus like a friend and develop a personal relationship with him. I never once experienced that, despite years of trying and seeking. On the 21st I said, again, that I’d like to meet Jesus and get to know him. We’ll see what happens this time around.
I’m still unsure of how I want to practice this quarter. I’ve decided to start praying the Lord’s prayer, the Hail Mary and two prayers I learned from my time worshipping in Eastern Orthodox churches, the Jesus prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner) and ‘Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy.’ This seems like a fair and honest beginning.
I don’t have any set Christmas traditions. No one thing that I’ve done every single year. In fact, I realized during our move that my son has spent each of his four Christmases in four different places, with different people: Australia with my family, two different houses in Wales, one with my in-laws and one just with us, and now Cornwall with good friends. Outside of the quite secular Christmas tree, presents, and the carols that I sing this time of year, I don’t have any set Thing That I Do at this time of year.
So it’s a delight to have my friends here share their tradition. M, is half-Jewish and was raised as a Baba Lover. She and her husband, C, follow Meher Baba. M honors her Jewish heritage by observing Hanukkah; she light candles each night at sundown. She honors the spiritual tradition of her heart by reciting three specific prayers given by Baba. The prayers are simple and beautiful.
The first one lists attributes of the One who is without attributes; is an apophatic prayer. I’m fond of apophatism. While there is some language I personally find problematic (‘Lord of Lords’) I happily join in the spirit of honoring the monotheistic Non-Dual.
The second prayer is one of repentance. Repentance – even using the word itself – is something that I’ve quite let go of. I certainly believe in accepting responsibility for my faults and the ways I’ve hurt others, and I work to get ‘right’ with myself and others. But the word ‘repentance’ is so entwined with language of worth/unworthy, right/wrong, your will/my will dualisms, that I struggle to remember the helpful aspects of repentance. This prayer also uses much of these ideas of repentance. But I dive into its meaning. These concepts of worthiness, repentance and sin are a non-negotiable part of Christianity so I accept them and pray them with a sincere heart. My I be forgiven every insincere word, malicious thought and wish, every false gesture, and all my hypocrisy. May I be worthy of union with You.
The third prayer is a short prayer to Baba to love him ‘more and more, and more and more, and yet more.’ Avatar Meher Baba kaji. I start my mornings with my private litany of Christian prayers and end my day with communal candles and Baba prayers. It’s peaceful and a gentle introduction to my monotheistic, avatar-based quarter.
I may not get back to this internet cafe before Christmas – or even before I leave for the US. I wish you all every happiness this holiday season.