I had an unexpected conversation the other day. Ever have that happen? You go into a situation prepared for one kind of information exchange and then something completely different takes place?
I love when that happens.
I’m really private about few things; my spiritual practices being one of them. I’m not sure why, I just am. Of all the things I share so freely, so openly, my spirituality isn’t on that list. Maybe it’s something I have a hard time articulating. Maybe it’s something I think we’re just supposed to feel in each other. Are you connected to something bigger than yourself? Can you see that light of honesty, acceptance and purpose in my eyes? Yes? Then we’re good. That way there’s no need for religion to muddy the water. Maybe I avoid the topic because so many conversations are tinged with the flavor of conversion, or shame, or subordination. All that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
But this woman shared with me, in such earnest and honest words, her practice for staying connected; her faith and trust expressed daily through actions. Now, again, my life is so bad ass. If you’ve never had a spiritual conversation behind the register of a sex shop- well, my hope for you is that someday you will. (It’s kinda like that moment with Shi all over again.) She got me thinking: if I wanted to share with someone what she shared with me, what would I say?
It’s taken me a day and I’ve come up with something. And it feels cheesey to admit, but it’s my truth. My spiritual practice is all about words. Words are how I connect and receive, say thanks and ask for help. Words are powerful to me. In fact, one of the very first lessons I taught the boys was that their words matter. I told them that over and over until now I’m sure it’s engrained in their brains right along with looking both ways before they cross street and putting on a seat belt. Words matter.
And I begin to see that as silly. Words are communication. Words are building blocks and tools. Words are easy to conjure and easier to toss away. How can something like letters strung together be spiritually significant? Then I think about breath. The mechanics of breath, the different kinds of breaths we take. The importance of our first breath and the preciousness of our last. My boxing coach is forever reminding my to breathe when I’m on the bag. How could I forget to breathe in that moment? Why would I hold my breath when my body is fully engaged? Mostly because my mind won’t let go. To breathe in that moment is to let the mental struggle go. Let something else take over. The drive. The desire. The unfiltered sense of purpose that lies beneath our socially constructed insecurities.
I have two words tattooed on my body. Goddess on the top of my back. 18th birthday. Old English lettering like the list of ingredients on a package. Contents of this body: 1 Goddess. The second, Truth, on my lower back with a double ax. I had had both of my sons by then and the truth of my decisions, the truth of being a mother and needing the best weapon I could summon to cut through the bullshit- yeah that required some permanent ink.
And it’s not the words I’m typing now that feel like a spiritual practice. No, it’s the words you will never read, the words I write just for me and the spirit I’m talking to that day. It’s a private conversation that means everything to me. All my fears, hopes, gratitudes and challenges flow from pen to paper. It’s almost like letting the mental struggle go. The body takes over. And it takes as long as it needs.
I’m going to make sure I keep my private writing time a priority as the thesis project continues. I guess I needed a reminder. Funny how unexpected conversations are exactly the information we really need to exchange.