Autumn Skye says it all with her magnificent piece entitled “My Body is My Temple” which you can see above this post – we all have a sacred space within us.
Our body, like a temple, is the structure that holds holiness, otherwise known as our spirit. The body, like any physical structure, needs to be looked after, cleaned and repaired to weather the outside conditions. It is a messy world out there with a tornado of others’ emotions circling, engulfing us, causing a torrent of tears, putting out fires of ambition or fury just to give a sampling of the energy inside and outside of us.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are experiencing our own autumn skies. The leaves are turning shades of gold, copper, brass, bronze and every hue in between, as they gently let go of their branches and return to the bosom of Mother Earth. This dance of life and death, creation and destruction, light and dark, work and rest is what shapes our existence on our planet.
Unfortunately, as humans we think we can overrule nature.
It’s negative and it’s useless, we say. We refuse darkness and rest. Why have downtime when we have technology that enables 24/7 work and electricity to light up every second of the earth circling the sun?
After all, productivity is the Holy Grail, isn’t it? To-do lists run and sometimes ruin our lives. What no productivity guru never talks about is that all this obsession with getting more done leads to burn-out.
And burn-out leads to – what else? – darkness.
Fortunately, it is only from a place of darkness we see the light again.
The Anatomy of a Baptism
On Saturday it was the eight of us gathered at the church for our six-month-old baby’s Baptism. The paternal grandparents, a great auntie, my partner and I, my brother, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend, the only Catholic among us. When the old priest greeted us we sat down in front of him with the little one in our laps, me doing my best to keep her quiet and attentive. He started off by asking for the grandparents.
They raised their hands.
“Grandparents importance becomes most clear when the little one has reached teenage years. Naturally, she will be testing her parents’ boundaries. We are all meant to find our own way and this happens through conflict. Whereas teenagers don’t listen to their parents, I find that they will listen to their grandparents.”
This is great. I thought. Luckily our children’s grandma lives closeby. When teenage problems arise, sending the children over to their grandma’s house for another perspective seems like a good plan to me.
“Godparents, you are the ones who will look after this child if anything happens to their parents…” He went onto explain that the tradition went back to the beginnings of Christianity when the Romans were executing early Christians and orphaning children. Nominating Godparents ensured that these orphans were looked after and brought up into the Christian faith.
As parents our role was clear – to provide a loving and supportive household for the children to thrive and strengthen their faith. The faith he meant was the Catholic faith. However, in my mind, it was embracing a sense of play in an ever more structured and demanding world. I believe that when one follows their bliss, they can’t help but create something new in the world that brings more joy to one’s life.
The priest then took his place behind the Baptismal pool and invited us, the parents and the grandparents to stand opposite him. He then proceeded to put oil on the little one’s forehead.
“It’s an ancient tradition to put oil on warrior’s bodies” Father Michael explained the history behind this odd tradition. Looking at her happily cooing mouth, she didn’t resemble a great warrior but every breath we take and the business of living can be seen as a wrestle. We are wrestling with ourselves, with the light and the dark energies within us, which all guide us in our outer journeys through this life.
“Why water? Water is where life began and water washes us. It symbolises new beginnings. Today is a new beginning for your baby. It’s her start in the journey as a Catholic.” He then sprinkled water on the baby’s head and happily not a peep came out of our baby who seemed to enjoy the water.
“Fire is another one of our symbols. We light the baptismal candle” he looked at the Godparents who had the Baptismal candle in their hands and pointed to the Church’s candle for them to take the fire to light our baby’s candle.
And with that our baby was initiated into a community of supporters, the Catholic family. We wanted her to be a part of this group as we see lots of positivity in the education that the faith has spawned.
Your Very Own Holy Family
Do I think the church is the only place for holy worship?
This is why I’m typing these lines today. As Autumn’s art suggests, we are all holy beings with a sacred space inside of us. We are all capable of ceremony, celebrating personal achievements, milestones within our family like birthdays and weekly or monthly gatherings with our nearest and dearest without the outside assistance of organised religion.
One of the best things I’ve experienced with my Australian family is Sunday dinners. We gather at the matriarch’s house who always cooks us delicious, healthy, fresh food sometimes with ingredients from her own backyard, depending on the season. The food nourishes our bodies, the lively conversation satisfies and ignites our curiosity about each other and the world at large.
Our family time is for being present with each other – to listen, not judge, share openly and lovingly.
But let me assure you, just as family time is sacred so is one’s time alone. Don’t neglect to take the time to listen to your body, your aches, pains and give your body the movement and nourishment it requires to carry your spirit wherever it wishes to go.
Yoga is good for listening to and responding to your body’s needs,
Create downtime in your life to listen to the stillness, preferably in nature. The message that will come to you is your own nature, the original spirit. Do what it asks of you if you don’t want to keep feeding the enemy within that holds you back from enjoying your life.
This year is a special milestone for me as second of November is when I turn 40 under the purple jacaranda skies of our backyard. My bliss is to have a 40s themed party where I might perhaps introduce a tradition and relive some of the moments from one of my favourite movies of all time – Casablanca.
Yeah, random. Your bliss is! Follow it regardless. If you want to wear bright green socks, just do it! You have my permission. Go to your family dinners in a onesie if you wish.
And why the heck not?
Over to you…
What self-care and family rituals have you created over the years that you protect like a mother tiger?