Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sun Temple

Happy Solstice

These last ten days of the year serve as a non-secular retreat for most of the western world. Not much of a contemplative retreat but for many, a certain anticipation of leisure and good food. Nuts will be cracked! Blogs and media retrospectives will summarize the year in politics and entertainment, obituaries, sports, the best and worst of '08' lists are hurriedly being composed. And that ain't all...

Amongst my friends, there are impoverished buddhists who invest way more time, money and energy in celebrating Christmas than they do in any Buddhist holiday. Ask and they will say they do it for their kids or grandkids, (who are neither Christian nor being raised Christian). When I consider this kind of situation, it seems redolent with suffering. Having failed to create/discover an alternative means of expression, people resignedly conform and initiate the young into the mindless rituals of consumerist culture, encouraging cycles of expectation and disapointment in relation to the year's 'take'.

From where i sit, the midday sun streams thru the highest branches of the tulip magnolia in the yard, throwing a broken shadow on some of the plants clustered at the base of the glass door. It will only be like this for a few more days as the arc begins ascending higher into the sky. If you think of it, pull back the curtains and note the westernmost place where the last direct rays of sun strike a wall in your home before sunset tonight. Mark it! If the sky is clear, you should be able to do this unless your apartment faces east or north. To complete the mission, do it again on an equinox and the summer solstice. Now you live in a sun temple.

Last night we were talking about how it is increasingly common for us to consider the nature of the food we eat, means of production, cost, how it is prepared and the quality of the environment wherein it is consumed. That's a big source of our energy but by no means the only one. So as we move into this period, remember the supreme gifts of appreciation, consecrated presence, simple mindfulness, conscious breathing, relaxed alertness, good humor, good company to y'all...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of your thoughts around trying to 'keep up with Christmas consumerism'. I like sending cards and sharing blessings of love with my friends, but didn't buy any gifts. I was asked several times this December if I were "ready" for Christmas. I didn't know how to respond in a way that wouldn't rock their (general public) idea of what Christmas means (i.e. shiny gifts piled up under a tree that has been cut from its earth home).