Thursday, 23 September 2010

life is an offering

I saw this piece of writing on a house in a field in Bali. I loved it instantly, and didn't know why. Maybe the font - the simplicity of it - turning the words over in my head, wondering what they meant to me, at that moment in time.

90% of the population of Bali is Hindu. They believe in their Gods with their whole heart, and offer up daily incense and candles and pieces of food every morning. Everywhere you turn, there are offerings. In shops, the marketplace, the hotel lobby, the fancy spa. The air is thick with the scent, and when you buy something, a lot of the time they take the money and thank God out loud, tapping the items in their shop with the cash.

I often light candles in the morning at home - at least one. To remind myself of Spirit, as I walk from room to room, picking up and sorting everybody's mess around here - unpacking the dishwasher - sitting down to try to get some work done. The candle is there, silently flickering, reminding me of something else always present. (Always watching, Wazowski.)

Since being in Bali, my candle ritual has grown deeper, with more of a purpose. I light incense all the time now, too. Add some lavender from the garden. Sometimes I sprinkle a little piece of weet-bix in there as well, to offer up the Gods some brekkie. The recovering Catholic in me thinks, you are not supposed to worship false Gods. SACRILEGE!

But I stopped officially being a Catholic when the priest flippantly told me, as a grieving 16 year old girl, to "not waste my time worrying about my (step)father who had just killed himself ..... as he would now be in purgatory forever."

I have been searching for some kind of meaning my whole life. (Isn't everyone?) I had the Book of Mormon, Dianetics, Moonies. I have renounced God, saw dreadful evil in the world, then let God back into my heart. I *hate* the word God, and how I automatically still say He, after all these years. I believe in the God of nature, of karma, of love. I'm pretty sure generations of Buddhists and Hinduists and the like .... will not be all sent to burn in hell. They're really lovely people - MUCH nicer than many Catholics I have met.

So, my "God" is a kind of cobbled-together, broken but cool God who knows how hard it is to love life. Since I was a child, I've had a firm belief that the instant we die, we'll know all the answers.

In the meantime ..... we're here to learn and grow and evolve, as much as we can. Be kind, man. Give of yourself to your family, and friends, and others. There's a saying that's been drummed into my head over time - you've got to give it away to keep it.

The last few years have cracked me open, wide open, never to return to my old hermit crab shell. It's nice, to be open. Look people in the eyes, allow myself to feel more free and have wonderful conversations, not be so fearful and closed. I like it here.

On my last day in Bali, we were driving back to our hotel and I told Dave I had to get a photo of that piece of writing. I saw and yelled at the driver to stop, on this really busy road with cars zooming by. I ran out, just as it started to rain, jumping over into a paddy field and got my feet wet and dirty. I stood precariously on this bit of a hill, snapping away for ages, trying to get a good angle.

Life really is an offering. I light all my shiz and say a bit of a prayer, almost every morning now. I'm so grateful and thankful, to have full use of my body, a beautiful family, a roof over my head. And the incense burns ash all over the countertops, like lines of a dusty caterpillar. I don't clean them every day, just light another one in the mess from the day before, in the remnants of yesterdays intention.


THANK YOU for your kind words and love on my last post. Rocco still has the big lump. Back to the doc tomorrow for another look-see. He is snuggled up in bed with me right now, tossing and turning, with a fever. Clutching Buzz in one hand and Woody in the other.


  1. CLARIFICATION: Rocco is next to me in bed - not the doctor. The doctor IS very cute though.

  2. Not that I want the child to have a fever, but I think that is a sign that the lump is another way his body is trying to fight off some illness...everything is gonna be ok....Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  3. the need for ritual runs deep. it's the moment of clarity, of stillness, that comes from the very rote nature of the performance that provides release. really nice post eden. all the best to rocco.

  4. You know what's wrong with Catholicism? Priests. And sometimes nuns. But mostly priests. I don't think there is a false idol involved if your ritual is your way of talking to God. And surely God wants any incarnation.

    Hope Rocco is feeling better and lump-free soon. But the fever - it's a "good" sign that the lump is due to some sort of infection, isn't it?

    The clarification made me giggle.

  5. Well as for that priest and what he told you, just when I think they can't come up with any more nails in that coffin for me ... another one opens their mouth. Recovering indeed.

    I love the candle as a reminder that something is always present. My friend A used to burn them for protection ... same thing, really. A reminder that something GOOD is present. I love sage candles for that.

    One of my favorite rituals when we are at the beach ... my favorite two weeks of the year ... is to go into this old gothic church ... the kind from my childhood ... and light candles for everyone. The candles are battery operated now, but I still do it. It's the thought that counts. Something about that gesture rings for me.

    I just loved this, "...incense burns ash all over the countertops, like lines of a dusty caterpillar. I don't clean them every day, just light another one in the mess from the day before, in the remnants of yesterdays intention."

    As my favorite grandmother (Na) used to say, It's a great life if you don't weaken. Vida la vida, Babe. My thoughts and my affection are with you all. I will burn a candle for you today.

    Awesome post, awesome pic.

    D. was here.

  6. I love how you make your own life an offering with your writing and blogging. It's such a beautiful offering. I like your description of God as "cobbled-together, broken and cool". It sure makes a lot more sense than the judgemental old man in the sky. :)

    Thinking about you all, and hoping tomorrow brings great news.

  7. Lump + fever = a simple infection being fought by his healthy immune system doing its job.

    My Catholic story? My mom went to her priest a couple of days after a particularly bad beating by my father. Bruised, eyes swollen almost shut, broken arm (these were the days before docs were required to report such things....things that were considered "family" problems) and when asking the priest what she could do (being a good catholic girl in 1950 divorce wasn't an option).........the priest said to her "this is your cross to bear".
    Yep. He really said that. After envisioning the rest of her life (and hoping the next time he pulled the trigger the gun was still unloaded) she sat back and did nothing.
    She also quit going to church. This woman already lived hell, I am certain she is not there now.

  8. I've been searching for some sort of Spirit my entire life (all 25 years of it). I never grew up with a solid idea of what/who God is, because my parents and most of the family never practiced religion.

    Along the way, I've grown my own ideas and praying. I pray a lot...but to who? I can't really answer that. I light candles...I appreciate and find solace and comfort in nature. I am amazed at how the world works and the people in it. I DO believe in some higher power.

    One of my favorite quotes is this: "The Kingdom of God is inside you and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift a stone and you will find me."

  9. I don't do religion, there are far too many scars on my heart for me to believe that God, any God is real - I do spirituality but that's completely different [for me].

    Life is an offering and how we choose to accept that offering determines how much [or how little] we get out of it - so far I've failed hugely, I'm hoping that's about to change.

    Rocco's fever sounds like a positive thing, a sign his body is fighting whatever that lump is and OF COURSE it's not anything major because we KNOW it's not, right!


  10. Life is an offering...I love it.

    I'm with you that religion is kindness. I'm thankful I can have another day to try to get it right tomorrow ;)

    I'm sending warm thoughts to Rocco -- (always watching -- hey Roz is a total presence in our household too...)




  11. No wonder we are sister-souls. My genderless god is a cobbled-together notion, as well.

    XO with Rocco. Facing something similar over here, too :-(

  12. Hope Rocco is feeling better soon.
    Every time I walk past a church I can't help thinking "People inside a church, why is it there you choose to pray? God can see you in the street, you never get away"

  13. It feels like I need a candle and incense today. A lot.

    Hope Rocco is feeling better and that his lump is going down. xx

  14. On the Balinese slapping things in their shops with money, it's gratitude to the gods but it's also what they do after the first sale of the day. It always makes me cry a little inside when it's late afternoon and they do this, and I gave them so little money....

  15. I love this.
    I too feel like I've been searching for meaning or God all my life. I don't think I've quite found it yet but the bits I've seen sort of resemble what you describe. It's been so hard to believe in anything after being told that as far as God's concerned you're already dead. Maybe someday.


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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