Midday, and a reflection on practice, 21 Nov

I began my daily walk with my Celtic Mandala prayer, as is customary for me, and again imbas lead me into a new manifestation of it:

“I stand facing east, to honor the power of stone, mountain, and bone.  I thank you for your resilience, and pray that you teach us how to be resilient this day.

“I stand facing south, to honor the power of sun, summer, and countenance.  I thank you for your light and beauty.  I pray that you teach us how to manifest light and beauty this day.

“I stand facing west, to honor the power of sea, water, and blood.  I thank you for your nourishment, and pray that you teach us how to nourish life this day.

“I stand facing north, and honor the power of wind, winter, and breath.  I thank you for your power of refreshment, and pray that you teach us how to breathe easily through the winds of change.

“I stand looking down, and honor the power of land, earth, and flesh.  I thank you for your sustenance, and pray that you teach us how to sustain life this day.

“I stand looking up to the sky, and honor the power of cloud, rain, and thought.  I thank you for your greening, and pray that you teach us how to support life this day.

“I stand in the center, surrounded by sea, supported by land, and embraced by sky, in the place of indwelling spirit, source of vitality and inspiration.  I thank you for your gifts and blessings.  I pray that you teach us how to bless the world through our inspired words and deeds, that they may in turn refresh the Well of Inspiration from which we all draw.

“Moran taing, agus slàinte mhath.”

I used to think I’d dislike walks in the cold rain, but I have found that with long underwear, warm clothes, decent shoes, gloves, and a giant golf umbrella, I say toasty and comfortable, and enjoy my interactions with the Cloud and Rain Spirits.  I also appreciate staying in touch with the Tree Spirits I see daily, and their bird companions.  Today I saw what might be a white-breasted nuthatch, and must look that up to confirm.  It was a special treat, a different visitor from the crows, gulls, juncos, and ‘LBBs’ I mostly see this time of year.  I stood in my oak copse and recited my midday office prayer:

“Hail, Spirits of the Land; may you smile upon us this day. Thank you for your many gifts and blessings.  I pray that you teach us how to live peaceably with you this day.  I pray that the ears and eyes of the people might be open to receive your teachings, and that their hearts might be open to accepting and manifesting those teachings.  I pray too that my ears, eyes, and heart may always be open to you.  Slàinte mhath.”

What this exercise in daily practice is teaching me is that there is value in both a general structure, which steadily holds the shape of a practice, and in space for inspiration, which can infuse the structured moments and prayers with meaning and teaching, when space is made for them within the practice, as a container for receiving them, and a sanctuary in which to integrate them by sitting and being with them.  The greatest value then is in simply showing up and being present.  I am grateful for this opportunity to learn these lessons, and for those teachers who have inspired me to initiate this practice.  Blessings to them.

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