Thursday, June 7, 2012

What an interesting world we live in

An excerpt from the Samhain chapter of Druid Priestess by Emma Restall Orr.
Many spiritual traditions take it to the extreme of denying the physical any value at all, either focusing on their own spirit or reaching out to a spiritual force above, either way, eager to transcend the body of flesh and red blood.  Yet such beliefs require a constant watch over the physical, with tight restrictions that affirm its baseness or prevent expression of its instincts of the ebb and flow of its energy.  Then, because the physical can give us such pleasure, pleasure is next to be denied.  Meanwhile, the transcendent force, now perhaps given form and name along with full responsibility for the oppressive rules, promises a blissful salvation that is little more than the release from the chains of suffering that it itself has imposed....Within Druidry, transcending the physical is a very different idea.  Where there is an acceptance that the gods reside in everything, that every cell is vibrant with the spirit of the creative force, where every movement is both a prayer and an expression of deity, there can be no denial of our animal nature.  Our instincts and passions, our sexuality and laughter, our hungers and revulsions are all a part of the dance of life that creates our world in all its beauty.  It is nature -- and to deny any part of nature would take away our ability to perceive its wholeness, its completeness.  And through that judgement, we would be separated from it, cutting the connections that feed us....The concept of dominating nature is an anathema to Druidry.  For although nature is wild and dark, filled with the shadows of the unknown, it is also the physical expression of the gods.  The Druid responds to nature with a poignant reverence, always open to its beauty with wonder and awe.
For me at the moment, the negative side of nature is the ailment diagnosed today which, at worst, could be with me all my life, and which could prevent me from doing some of the activities I love most.

Our bodies decline with age.  The alternative is to die young.  I'm happy to be living life.

In the past, when my declining body curtailed some of my more energetic activities, I slowed down and looked at the trees.  In the past, when my withdrawal from energetic activities cost me friends, I came to choose friends based on what is inside them, instead of based on the activities they would share with me.  Perhaps this new physical curtailment will enrich my life just as my past physical curtailment has.

In this consumer society, we think that if we want anything, all we have to do is buy it.  Many times, we don't even have to leave our homes.  We just look it up on the internet, type in a credit card number, and it gets delivered to our door.  If we feel pain or fatigue, we look for a pill to make it go away.  If we don't like the way we look, we get plastic surgery to get the body we want.  If we are too cold, we turn up the heat.  If we are too hot, we turn up the air conditioner.  We consume, consume, not seeing that we are using up the earth's resources, and some day, there won't be any left.

In druidry, we embrace the whole, good and bad, dark and light.  In druidry, we learn patience.  In druidry, we observe and grow.  In druidry, we know that some things are beyond our control -- the forces of nature, the wills of others.

Yet just as others have wills, so do we have a will, and we can work with that which is around us.  This is what we do in gardening.  We can't change how nature works, but if we understand nature, we can try to bend it in the way we wish.

The people I love were not designed to my specifications.  They have their quirks, but that makes them all the more rich.  They don't always do what I would have wanted, but sometimes they surprise me with beauty I never could have foreseen.

With all its hardships, what an interesting world we live in.

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