Illustration by Priyal Shah

COME DECEMBER

We have now come into December, the last month of the Gregorian calendar, a calendar that most of us have come to follow over the last several decades.

November ended and December began for us with an immersive experience in the two beautiful jungles of India, Sunderbans and Kaziranga. The heart is so very full, having connected to the more-than-human world in such abundance, as well as to the several beautiful humans we interacted and built relationships with along the way. Life is indeed incredibly interesting, and Her creations spectacular. Deeply grateful to the enriching experiences.

This month also brings home, several close family and friends, for whom I wish to create as much space as possible to spend time with. There will therefore be no blog posts this month.

My next post will be on 15th January, 2022.

However, through this post, I invite ourselves into three rituals. Whichever resonates with each of us, may we bring that alive in ways that makes it true to who we are and the people we are with. I ask of you to use them as inspiration and get as creative as you wish to with it, or even make-up your own ritual. If you ever feel called to share them with me, or share pictures of it, I would so love to see it, and experience it through the moments captured.

CELEBRATING LIFE IN ALL ITS FORMS

We have had sufficient time to pause or be contained within the four walls of our homes, over the last two years. So for this month, I wish you otherwise. I hope you get to step outdoors, feel the nip in the air or the snow depending where you live, go to the markets to touch-feel and pick up the food, if possible get plenty of time with people whom you have been waiting to meet for a while, break bread across several tables, toast over occasions, and be together as biological social beings that we each are, and get totally high on oxytocin. 

A Ritual of Celebrating Life

In each of these togetherness and celebrations, I invite you into a prayer or practice, of Celebrating LIFE if it resonates with you. This is partly inspired by what is taught as a part of the Vipassana program, called the practice of Metta Bhavana, along with my own few words of invitation:

We hold the beauty, the interconnectedness, the interdependency we share with all you living beings, small or big; near or far; visible or invisible; from the earth-sky-water-and everything in-between, and wish you happiness, and we shall weave the web with you in a nourishing and thriving way, as we too are a part of it.

We can make this toast CREATIVE – invite the young and old to add to the décor, to the table, to the garden, to the space around us, and bring in their awe-wonder and wisdom to improvise in ways that makes this Celebrating of all Life, exciting to everyone present. Include pets and any farm animal you nurture into this toast, and all of the natural world that surrounds us. Dress up in joyful outrageous ways to do so.

A Ritual of Celebrating the Gifts of the Earth

Let us Celebrate LIFE through the food we prepare and the bread we break together this month. Let us go to the market, touch-feel-sense the vegetables and ingredients we need for our cooking and pick them up. Let us pick up local-seasonal-regional and figure out how to cook them, if we haven’t tried them before. Let us prepare the meal, holding in our hearts, every being who could have contributed directly or indirectly to make the food possible – soil, earthworms, microbes, water, sunlight, air, pollinators, dispersers, farmers, distributors, our own body that is nourished by it, and then offer our thanks in any way you wish to. Maybe the youngest at our table could guide us into giving thanks. Maybe the Elder at the table. Maybe you invite a farmer to the gathering and he/she could offer the thanks. Maybe you go to a local restaurant, and offer thanks in that space. Let us find ways to expand this ritual in ways that are fun, exciting and adds merry to the season.

A Ritual of Relationship when Outdoors

In a mentorship program I am a part of, Emmanuel Vaughan Lee, author, Sufi teacher, and film maker, brought something beautiful to our attention. I am paraphrasing it in the way I understood it best.

He shares how even when we go into the woods, into the forests, we are still going with ourselves and projecting ourselves into the landscape, with our voices, and with our asks – ‘what can I get from it?’ approach. Some fresh air, rejuvenation, how good it is for me, apart from all the thoughts that accompany us on such hikes. He brings to attention that we cannot build a relationship with the land from this space. Instead of allowing our voices to wash over us, if we can enter into the landscape with an emptiness, with no private agenda, and listen to the voice of the earth, we will hear things we don’t expect. The earth is alive and will speak to us.

So how we can orient ourselves to enter such spaces, without centering ourselves, but with the intention of knowing the other, the whole land, would allow for building a relationship.

This, I found to be a very rich insight. How true, how will we be able to build relationships with anyone, if we hold ourselves at the centre?

I therefore invite us into this kind of emptiness. Whether in our garden, or on a small piece of land, or a large forest, or a body of water, or on a mountain, can we enter this space with the intention of listening to the earth, wishing to know her, and in doing so, sowing seeds of a relationship? What would that feel like? May we be able to practice this and sense the richness of it.

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I wish us all a December that has more of the natural world and its connections and celebrations

If you are led into any of these rituals, or have made up your own to celebrate LIFE, and are called into sharing it with me, I would love to hear about it.

Deep gratitude to each one of you for being the beautiful companions you are on this `How I Wonder What You Are’ journey. Thank you for receiving, for sharing, for creating space for our relationship through this.

A big hug to all of you near and far.

To Celebrating LIFE

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