Life’s gratitude altar

Over the weekend, I returned to the earth the contents of a gratitude ceremony I facilitated for a group of women earlier in the week. These representatives of the environment—things like flowers, pinecones, evergreen boughs, seeds and sticks–hold the energy of gratitude blown into them by the participants in the ritual.

This is sacred stuff. People’s heartfelt appreciation was transferred energetically by the breath into something as transient as a rose petal or a leaf, then scattered on a mound of snow. Their gratitude, shared from deep within them, will be swept away by the wind, pecked at by a bird or composted into the soil.

One of the things we know about life on this earth is that everything changes. Nothing is permanent. Yet we so often live as though it is. We attach ourselves to the people, animals and things we cherish and are devastated when they leave us. When things don’t flow the way we think they should, we become mired in the mindset that life will always be difficult.

This reality of impermanence is a big lesson for me at the moment. Well, actually, it’s a big lesson for me all the time. But with the world in such a tangible season of transformation, it feels particularly relevant right now.

In searching for tools to assist me in accepting the reality of ephemerality, I’ve landed on gratitude. Deep appreciation for what is in front of me right now. In Qoya, we often say, “how willing are you to open your heart to what is present in your life at this moment?” So, breathing in, I sense to the best of my ability the fullness of the now moment, and breathing out I try to let go of the past and the future.

I recently ran across this piece of prose by British writer and spiritual teacher Jeff Foster, who is a survivor of suicidal depression and chronic illness.

You Will Lose Everything  

You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.

But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realising this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude.

Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.

I don’t know whether I felt more comforted or terrified after reading this piece, but it was breathtaking in its truth. Just like the stories the women in my gratitude circle told last week.

We each shared about something that we once were not at all thankful for, but now could understand its gifts. Some of the stories were heartbreaking, and yet the transformation that occurred as a result was tremendous.

Impermanence indeed transfigures our lives into altars. Every experience blown away by the wind, pecked at by a bird, composted into the soil. Every brutal or beautiful moment a precious gift.

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Jennifer Reeve

I am  a healing guide, a space holder and a reflector of your sacred light. My aim is to help you connect with your wild, expansive Divine essence so you may freely share your gifts with the world. I offer intuitive readings, non-touch energy healings, spiritual mentoring, embodiment practices, nature connection and sacred ceremony. It would be my honor to guide you toward your expansion.

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