It’s an idiosyncratic grouping, but it is my weaving of stories for the moment.
I believe the brass dish under the cactus on the left was a wedding present, though I am not absolutely certain of that. It was a long time ago.
The cloth with the tassels came from a shaman in Peru; I was there for 9/11.
I bought the gray scarf when I was in Costa Rica on a retreat with John Friend from a world-traveling fellow yoga practitioner who had brought an array of beautiful scarves to Costa Rica from Thailand.
Other things were brought home from India–mostly by me, but one a treasured gift from a friend.
The porcupine quills were also an inspired and loving gift.
The square of marble under the cactus on the right I found on the street in the neighborhood. The cactii came from a yard sale over a decade ago. They were being sold for only blooming once a year.
The bit of mother of pearl comes from Centerport beach on Long Island. I went there last fall the day before my father’s memorial service.
Other things came from vendors at Eastern Market and one from New York City.
The chestnut is from Stanton Park. I picked it up on my way to work one beautiful day last year.
The heart-shaped stone came from Arizona when I was on a meditation retreat some time late in the last decade. I’ve been to some really lovely places on this planet.
The mala Kuan Yin is wearing I strung and designed: rudraksha beads from my first meditation mala (which had broken), labradorite, and emeralds on silk thread.
The jet beads belonged to my grandmother Rose.
There’s a story about the lump of black and red rock behind Ganesha, but I think I’ll leave that for another day.
I realize that this blog entry was in my drafts page; I never hit the publish button. As I ponder the few intervening weeks of snow (in some ways it feels as if time just stopped, except for the work that piled up and the lengthening of the light of day), I treat this as a reminder to myself to come back to “first principle” to respond with the most light — even in this unusually harsh winter:
On my way to Friends Meeting yesterday, I stopped at the Dupont Circle Fresh Farm Market yesterday to buy whatever was fresh. When I got in line with a daikon radish, a bunch of turnips, and a couple of leeks, I noticed the way the woman in front of me in line was holding her selection: sunchokes. Her hands were held as if she had just received prasad — the offering sometimes made after a puja so that the fruits of worship may actually be tasted and injested, incorporated with our senses and our whole bodies into our being. “Your hands and those sunchokes are so beautiful,” I said, “may I take a picture and use it for my blog?” “Sure,” she replied, “and shifted her hands a little so that it would be easier for me to frame the picture.” We talked while we waited in line about potential ways to cook sunchokes and how happy we were that the farmers (these particular farmers’ must be incredibly good at working with cold frames) were out all year.
Seeing this offering of the earth itself, the farmers who tended the earth and grew the vegetables, the workers who made and repaired the vehicles that enabled the food to be brought into the city, the city and neighborhood for allowing the market to block off a street, the shoppers for supporting it, brought me back to my contemplations this week of what “first principle” means to me. I mentioned in an earlier post that my focus for winter classes would be Anusara sequencing principles. No matter what else we are doing or focusing on, it always starts with “first principle.” The “first principle” is what we call in Anusara “opening to grace.” For me, a large part of “opening to grace” is a recognition that all the nourishment we receive is a gift. When we practice such a recognition, then we practice receptivity, openness, gratitude, courtesy, respect, delicacy, and reciprocal desire to serve and make offering. How could one mindfully receive nourishment such as this fresh, beautiful food on a bitterly cold winter day, and not want to celebrate it by giving thanks, nurturing the earth, supporting the farmers and the market, learning how to prepare it as tasty and healthful as possible, and share it and other things with those around us?