Thursday, November 23, 2017

Shifting traditions




I went to church for Thanksgiving. 

Now, that might sound odd to those of you who are aware that I am more spiritual than religious, but I felt a really strong call to go to the Église Saint-Pierre yesterday evening and I listened to it, hurrying across the cobblestones as nights cape draped gently over my shoulders. 

When I walked first through the ornately carved entry, so many centuries old, and then pushed open the padded leather doors in place to protect the silence, I wondered if there would be that rush of relief that I had felt upon my first visit. Or had I been digging into dreaming, willing it so.

Clock-wise I moved from altar to altar. They had been so ornately painted. And now the patina fell away like shards. Yet the beauty pulsed from within. In the far left corner, in the chapel for the church's namesake, a woman sat praying in such stillness that she could have been sleeping. Sleeping peacefully with her God.

A communion.

After spending a few minutes marveling at the gilded nave rising, I turned and nearly ran into a priest with grizzled hair, who avoided my gaze, stepped aside to let me pass so that he could continue on his path towards the Confession box. 

I paused under a statue of Mary Magdalene, barefoot and draped in the simplest of clothing, before heading towards the exit, full-circle. I knocked gently at my heart. Yes, I felt connected again. To family, my own and of the world. I don't know what it is about this space that makes me feel so, but I acknowledged deeply my first springs of Gratitude for this Thanksgiving.

That was last night and admittedly, I had to push a bit to conjure up that feeling today upon waking, alone in my bed. Soon, I will get ready to go to my job - to return at midnight - and it is most likely that I will find out my schedule for December today and how many days I will be working through the holidays. 

Everything is different. But there are other scales that exist besides "Better" or "Worse." With today, and the festive days that lie ahead, I will have to figure out how to shift the traditions of the past so that they sing for me once more. Or anew. Perfection is nothing but a greedy shadow. 

The love that I feel...can take many forms...from having bought a tiny string of Christmas lights after leaving the church...to the yoga that I am about to do for my body and spirit. All thank you's, all a Thanksgiving. 


 

Of course I am extending that Love to you as well. Thank you for your many ideas and emails about the possible blog title change. Please forgive me if I haven't responded. We'll see where things go.


 
 
 



Please be really kind to yourself today and - hopefully! - to those around you too.
Namaste,

Heather



31 comments:

  1. Exquisite words, exquisite images. As usual with you. So glad to hear from you, and your message is just perfect for today.
    Also more spiritual than religious, I agree that churches can be great places for introspection.

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    1. Thank you for the kind compliment. I hope that all is well in Carcassone!

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  2. Ooooo - "perfection is nothing but a greedy shadow" - good one!!! I'm reminded also of the quote: "nothing is either good or bad - tis thinking that makes it so". And the many (Buddhist) readings on how we create all our suffering with our own minds. I love that you did something outside the box last night - took in some beauty, had a new experience. And hoping you will continue to be kind to yourself and kick that shadow to the curb! Openness and gratitude are great salves - I will wish for more of the same for you through this season! Thankful for YOU, of course and sending a ton of love across the ocean!

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    1. I love you so much Sister. It was so great to reread your words here today.

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  3. Warmest wishes for Thanksgiving, Heather. Of course, every day truly is made for feeling grateful and you share that sentiment so freely with us. Thank you.

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  4. Just beautiful. I was right there with you in that church. A friend invited me to her church next week and I’m considering it. I haven’t ‘attended’ a ceremony in many many years - if I go I’m sure my ceremony will be a bit different from others attending, but peaceful recollections might be in order for me. Your words and photos are just gorgeous today! Happy Thanksgiving in the most reverent of meanings!

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    1. I love that you are open to a new experience and to going "in your own way." So powerful! I owe you an email Judi. Forgive me...

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  5. Lovely, thought inspiring post. Your photos are beautiful comme d'habitude. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, today and in the days that follow.

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  6. Heather
    I love that you knocked gently at your heart.
    Sometimes the heart is open for company
    and sometimes the heart needs to be coaxed out.
    It's beautiful to live at peace with an open heart.
    Thank you for the post,
    and Happy Thanksfiving
    Love Bernadette

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    1. Yes, I am feeling so tender-hearted these days Bernadette. Sometimes I feel like a warrior, not so much right now. I am listening.

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  7. Happy Thanksgiving, dear Heather. A beautiful post.

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  8. Your essay with photos reminded me of the first half of my greeting for today on Face Book: "My thoughts are with two groups of people this Thanksgiving. First, with those who feel they've nothing to be thankful for today. I accept them "as is" and hope others will as well and not try to convince them, with words today, that they "must" have reasons to be grateful. Maybe with deeds tomorrow. Second, I thank those EMS, nurses, practical nurses, doctors, transporters, technicians who are saving lives and treating the ill today and those who saved my life, more than once!" There was very positive, some moving responses, a pleasant surprise. I thought it might be greeted with "we all must be grateful to the sky, the stars etc.! " Life is complicated. Beats being a newt or no longer alive.

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    1. I can't tell you how many times I have reread that last line, Joan. Yep, beats being a newt or no longer alive. How grateful I am that you are still with us all...

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  9. Such a nice post coming directly from your heart! We dont have a Thanksgiving in Greece, but everyday I am thankful for the new day.

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  10. Such a wonderful heartfelt post. We don't have to be perfect to have a good day! Your pictures, as always, are breathtaking.

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    1. It is crazy how I keep relearning to let go of chasing perfection. I don't know why that is one of my big lessons this go 'round, but it is.

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  11. "Yes, I felt connected again." An honest feeling from the heart.It's wonderful you are connected again: "they sing for me once more."

    The church, inside, gives a feeling of peace.

    Have a nice weekend.

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    1. It really does. Not all do for me, but this one is just so filled to the beams with it.

      Sending Love to you and the Mrs.

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  12. Happy Thanksgiving. Heart, Julie

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  13. Hi would you mind stating which blog platform you're working with?
    I'm planning to start my own blog soon but I'm having a difficult time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something unique.
    P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

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  14. Hello Heather! Happy Thanksgiving. Beautiful post, so lovely, beautiful images. It's funny, I too, have stepped into a church a few times in the past few years and found it surprisingly peaceful, as if a burden was being lifted from my shoulders. It meant a lot that my hubby was willing to go with me (I've only gone twice) since I consider myself spiritual but not traditional "believer." If you really want to expand your mind, try listening to country music! Argh. Kenny Chesney and Maggie Rose "Pull You Through" on a cold winter day is very warming! :) File this in #thingsineverthoughtiddo Best Wishes & Blessings in the New Year to you!

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  15. My first husband was a scientist. He once told me he would believe in God if someone could give him proof He existed. I came to be a woman of faith a few years ago. If I could go back in time, before he died, I would have told him, "That's why they call it faith." Whether one believes in God or not, I do believe we were created with a special part of us that is searching for that connection. You certainly have a beautiful door to open. I hope you always find comfort there. Brenda

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