23 December 2008

Grace

I am a complete coward. I thought I wasn't going to write for a while but spending time with family has a way of slamming my face right up against some of my most lovely traits. The moment my parents come, I hide.

Most of the year we say grace at the dinner table. I shouldn't say we. Matt says grace. He came home from preschool one day and simply announced that he was saying grace and he has ever since, the very same one he learned in preschool. "God, you are very good to us, to give us food each day, to make us big and strong, so we can work and run and play. Amen."

Luke hates it. There have been nights when the simple act of Matt saying grace has touched off yet another round of the never-ending theological, philosophical, legislative ( as in "I shouldn't have to be forced to sit here while this is being said.") debates.

I love that it hasn't changed one bit in all these years. I wouldn't know what to replace those words with anyway and I sure wouldn't want to replace the feelings. I don't know if what is said matters as much as that we take a moment to appreciate that we are sitting together, to recognize, with gratitude, that the many things that could disrupt such quotidian tranquility are not in our lives. I like the fact that, at fifteen, Matt likes the ritual and still feels comfortable with those preschool words in his mouth. I even like the fact that, as much as Luke sighs and complains, he still takes the hands of whomever is sitting on either side of him and suffers through it.

Okay, so why on earth do I let the simple presence of my parents in my house cow me, cow us into abandoning one of our rituals?

At dinner years ago, when Matt was four or five and the words of the grace were still fresh, he started to do what he always did: make us hold hands. My mother was shocked but she complied, perhaps because he was cute and small, but the eye-rolling and significant looks at my dad were loud enough that none of us - especially Matt - wanted to do that again.

It makes me so sad that I haven't figured out a way to be myself and their daughter at the same time. I feel lost if I force it, lost if I don't but there is something about taking the time to recognize the sacred in the day-to-day I don't ever want to lose.

20 December 2008

Christmas break

Mom and Dad are in town so I'll probably be too busy dealing with the "now, why exactly are you doing this crazy thing" questions to post until the end of the month but, maybe not... I hope your holiday season, whatever it entails, is filled with peace and joy.

A present -- my favorite passage of the Bhagavad Gita from Stephen Mitchell's translation all together in one place:

He who can see inaction
in the midst of action, and action
in the midst of inaction, is wise
and can act in the spirit of yoga.

With no desire for success,
no anxiety about failure,
indifferent to results, he burns up
his actions in the fire of wisdom.

Surrendering all thoughts of outcome,
unperturbed, self-reliant,
he does nothing at all, even
when fully engaged in actions.

There is nothing that he expects,
nothing that he fears. Serene,
free from possessions, untainted,
acting with the body alone,

content with whatever happens,
unattached to pleasure or to pain,
success or failure, he acts
and is never bound by his action.

When a man has let go of his attachments,
when his mind is rooted in wisdom,
everything he does is worship
and his actions all melt away.

Bhagavad Gita 4.18-4.23