Recently, I was speaking with a young friend, the student of one of my teachers. She was visiting because she was struggling with a relationship. I asked why she had not yet brought the problem to the Ancestors. She thought about this and was stumped. I next asked her whether she had done ceremony to address the issue. Again her answer was a resounding, abet confused, “No.”
The young woman then spoke to feeling chagrined at having failed to do the obvious. I acknowledged I all too frequently find myself in the same situation. “Not true!” she retorted, “You are ALWAYS doing ritual.” I explained that I often neglect to do ceremony, even though I know it would be beneficial, even necessary. Sometimes my refusal takes the form of procrastination, other times exhaustion, distraction, or simple obstinacy. Not infrequently, Post-Polio fatigue leaves me too tired to do anything after a day of work, so ceremony gets put off til another day.
The irony is that like my young friend, I know performing ceremony will likely energize me, although the fatigue may well be worse the following day. Right now, I have a backlog of promised ceremony. The kitchen counter holds materials I need in order to prepare, and Jennie has been gently reminding me that time is passing. I was hoping to do all this with her, but she is now away teaching, so I guess I must soldier on by myself.
I used to become irritated with my teachers when they seemed slow to get around to some promised teaching, talk, or ceremony. So much for the impatience of youth and middle age. True, sometimes things can be delayed too long. More often there is delay as we wait for what feels a propitious time, a moment that seems perfect. Most of the time, though, we do what is needed, even though the timing isn’t quite what we might want.
Our lives and work are, at their best, quite ordinary, even imbued as they are with ritual and ceremony. It’s easy to forget great beauty fills the everyday, magic inhabits the moment, and the sacred hides in the mundane. Today matters. I guess I should get to work.