Textual Arachne

A weaver of threads.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Morning practices

Every morning, when I enter my study, I take a moment and kneel in front of the little card-table shrine. I say a few words of thanks, or of praise, or of requests ("today is going to need a lot of patience/drive; please help me find that in myself"), and move on to the rest of the day.

I started this about four months ago, when I'd been sneaking into the Divinity Hall chapel weekly to pray. The kneeling isn't about submission, but about moving into a different posture than usual--making this time different and sacred. The prayers are variations on what I've heard described as the universal prayer: "thank you, thank you; help me, help me." When I'm conscientious about it, it becomes more than a morning routine, turning into a way to sanctify my day and remember Her presence.

The shrine is made from a shoebox. It's based off of one from the APT costume shop, the little 'costumer goddess' we built one summer, partly joking and partly serious. There are little offerings in the tray: shells, dried flowers; rings, stones, coins, bits of fabric and ribbon, thorns from a bouquet of roses, cord from a ritual. The silver collar I used to wear. A matchbox.

There's no central icon here, though, because there's nothing that could really fully represent her. On the other hand, above the shrine hangs a ceramic face--to remind me that She is fully represented in everyone.


At 8:14 PM, Blogger alto artist said...

That's beautiful, thank you. My morning practice is to say the traditional Jewish prayer in gratitude for a new day of life: "I thank You, living and everlasting Sovereign, for returning my soul within me in compassion. Great is Your faithfulness."

At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Beautiful. Like alto artist, I begin every day with the morning prayer of gratitude. I'm pleased to say that after four years of trying to cultivate this practice, it is now as natural as breathing. Some days my very first thought is "oy, the alarm already?" but right after that I shift to "modah ani / I thank You..."

These days I'm trying to indulge in deeper/longer morning prayer on more of a regular basis. This morning I wrapped myself in tallit (prayer shawl) and tefillin (two sets of holy texts in leather boxes attached to long straps that wind around the head and the arm) and said a brief but complete morning service. In lieu of the amidah, the long central prayer of daily Jewish worship, today I just took some time to stand out on the deck in the glorious early morning and pour out my needs and thanks.



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