As the Sun sinks to its rest and the shadows deepen, I raise my hands and begin to chant … AWEN …AWEN … AWEN I reach out in blessing to the North, offering peace. I turn to the South ... but wait! In the woods behind me, a raucous grunting and trampling of leaves and brush. What’s that? Who’s there? We are your brother and sisters, the deer from the wood, coming to drink from the stream. Welcome, welcome! (Cernunnos, Lord, open the way!) The deer, the birds, a spider in its nearby (enormous) web, the wind, and the trees themselves join me as I light the evening lights, Saying our goodbyes to the spirits of the day And honoring those who come with the dark. Music, a choir singing “Sure on this shining night of starmade shadows round … “ What’s that I see? The field beside me blazes with tiny lights As fireflies welcome the night in a wondrous glittering display. With Cernunnos’ woodland company, I pray for love and understanding And make my solemn vow to the Shining Ones. Thank you, thank you for joining me and offering me your blessing. Please be welcome, May this always be a place of peace and safety. AWEN … AWEN … AWEN
What comes to mind when you think of spiritual practice? Prayer? Meditation? Spiritual reading? Journaling? I’ve always approached spiritual practice in these terms and, while I have grown from these practices, they never seem to be as fulfilling as promised. If the goal of spiritual practice is to develop a closer connection to whatever deity you believe in or connecting with your higher self, maybe I’ve been missing the point. I’m a very creative person, but I’ve always used creating/making/performing as a tool, as a means to an end. Yet when I think about it, my most mystical and ecstatic spiritual experiences happen when I lose myself in making something: arranging/composing a hymn tune, singing a song, coloring a picture from a book, even practicing music or writing code for a Web site.
This video from a rehearsal of a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago speaks of this. When I began composing, I had a completely different text in mind. This very quickly gave way to the text I ended up using, an adaptation of a Navajo prayer:
Beauty before, beauty behind,
Beauty above, beauty below.
Walk in quiet the beautiful trail.
Beauty within, beauty without,
Beauty beginning, beauty the end.
Walk in beauty, in peace, and in love.
What if the very act of creation is spiritual practice? How does making something feed your spirit and/or deepen your connection to the holy?