Sunday, January 04, 2009

Honoring the Ancestors Through Enjoying Ourselves

Ah. The peace of coming back from a good Yule blot. Good people, a fire, gifts, and honoring the Gods and the Mothers. Yes.

When I was younger, being somewhat of a slacker in some ways and at some times (although in other ways a very hard worker), I used to argue that generations of grandmothers and grandfathers labored hard so that their descendants could enjoy themselves, and that we are their descendants. For this reason, we ought to enjoy ourselves to honor them.

I still think there is great wisdom in that. I know now that still one must work, but the point should be well taken. Those of us in the first world have comforts and luxuries we should never take for granted, but instead should savor and enjoy with a spirit of gratitude, because generations of people did struggle so that one day people might enjoy themselves. If we don't at least enjoy ourselves, for what was all that labor and struggle?

Of course our job is not just to consume the interest on the capital of the previous generations, but to cherish that capital and make sure it is passed down intact and even somewhat improved for the coming generations, for we have obligations to the grandchildren as well, and that takes work.

We are surrounded by everyday wonders. Turn on the faucet. A river flows through, right into your porcelain basin. Feel the river. Now it's true that there are ungood things about all this which ought to be sensed and corrected, too. There is unwyrd as well in the bending of the rivers, the polluting of the rivers, the politics behind it all. But there is also good, good to be enjoyed. How often do you stop to feel that river flowing through those pipes and out the faucet onto your hands? There is that precious water, for drinking, for washing. Wow. Wow.

Even in our nation, there are many who don't have access to the comforts we have. The blankets, heaters, and fireplaces when it gets cold. The running water to bathe and to shower.

Things are a'shifting. We don't know where things will go. But the Gods are saying -- I think -- (this being a conceit) -- to gear up. There's skills and gumption the ancestors have that we may need to relearn and call upon. It's uncertain how long the modern comforts and conveniences may be at our fingertips, and we ought to cherish them while they are here, and pass them on when we can.

Let us not squander the comforts and pleasures funded for us by our ancestors' hard work. Let us honor their hard work, and remember them when we are enjoying ourselves. By remember, I mean thick, strong remembering like invoking them so one can almost see and feel them present, enjoying with us. Let them feel through us the fruits of their labor, fruits they often never saw, fruits they longed to taste, fruits that gave some meaning to their life if even some distant great-great-grandson or -daughter could taste them. And here we are, tasting them.


I've said before, sometimes I think good religion is nothing but an extended way of saying Wow. And really meaning it. And letting that Wow penetrate us and permeate us and sink deeply into our actions and the ways we treat each other. And maybe "courtesy", which we often think of as an artificial set of Emily Post etiquette rules, is more the manners with which people in touch with their gratitude and their awe behave. When it sinks that deeply, behaving with courtesy is just a matter of course. Being religious leads to being mannered ; calm, deep, respectful, strong, rooted, grateful, and appreciative of the value of every thing to be enjoyed.

For if worthship is not helping us appreciate the worth of everything, what is it good for? When we truly realize both the value and the costs of everything and everyone around us, we are living in a kind of awe-filled gratitude that has no subserviance to it, but wonder, amazement, and joy.

And what value that is. How could you pay for that? How could you put a price on that?

I drive home from the Yule blot, and the mountains are dark. They are dark and I feel their presence. I feel Vidrir blowing his breath upon the Simiyi plains. I return to Tovangar, and the clouds in the sky ... this is my world. Not "mine", but ... I belong. I am a part of this.

I step out of the car, onto the grass. I can feel Jord beneath me. I am becoming indigenous.

I am not quite there yet. I do not feed myself. I have yet to establish that close a connection to the land base that I am feeding myself from it. That yet I have to grow into.

But my feet are beginning to be on the earth, and everything is becoming sacred. I am becoming older than time itself, and as young as the fresh and fragrant orange blossoms. Here, in the 21st century, millions of years are present, and live through me, and I through them.

If someone asked me, what is this religion about? I could answer, Oh, it's about becoming a man. Becoming a woman.

Perhaps they would say, That's it?

I'd look at them. Oh, yes. Smiling, knowing. That is it.


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