Scurrious Minimus

Scurrious Minimus

“Sciureus minimus”. Listen to it for a couple of seconds. One. Two. It sounds like “scurry-ous minimus” doesn’t it? It ‘s my own combo of the scientific name for a chipmunk (sciureus) and the specific species of tiny, adorable, toylike characters that run and bounce along our front porch (lesser chipmunks). I don’t know about you, but I have this inbred need to be doing-doing-doing so much within only a few square inches of time- perhaps “Protestant work ethic” is a good term for it. I wake up, scurrying to get things done, which feels like a good thing, but then feel spiritually bereft to continue on, which doesn’t feel like a good thing, and then guilt sets in which really doesn’t feel like a good thing! See, even the words here feel like scurry-ous minimus! So I slow down and think the better question is, what does experiencing meaning look like? How can I craft each segment of my day from “scurry-ous minimus” into “meaningous maximus”? Then I take a deep breath, take off my ears and tail, and slow . . . down . . . .

(beautiful artwork by Natalie Wargin)

Advertisements

First rite of passage reflection: collecting rite words

DSC_0093

a place for inspiration: afternoon light in a chapel in Plain, WA

On my search for the “rite” words to inspire me and others on this creative journey toward a meaningful mentored celebration for my daughter, I wish I would have come across this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”

But I didn’t. There were pale samplings of written fare that spoke about painful rites practiced on girls over the centuries. There were interesting menstruation rituals I looked at quite shyly. And there were more luscious ceremonies like those in India where girls are given a new sari, sprinkled with fragrant water, and donned with a crown of flowers. But none of these were traditions embedded in our own experiences, our own culture (and at times, I admit I was grateful). I was looking for something not beautiful and borrowed, but something that resonated in the caverns of our own sense of places and spaces, here, where we are living.

Our culture, or at least my culture, didn’t have a precedent for rites of passage, so creating my own seemed like a good place idea. Perhaps my daughter would pass our new traditions on to her own daughter someday, and on and on until new traditions became established, familiar, even cherished ones. When you start from scratch on most anything, you have to  brush the top layers away until you get to rockbed. And rockbed for me was touched upon by asking these types of questions: what kind of gathering would allow for the sharing of stories to ease the pain of being alone in the adolescent years? what gifts of wisdom would be most worthwhile to Ginny? how can I craft an experience that allows her to walk away feeling loved, affirmed, and more clear-eyed in gazing at who she truly is? how can I provide a fun and exuberant release so our time together is not excessively heavy?

These questions and thoughts were the touchstones to ponder. They would help form the new words I’d be sculpting from. I would eventually collect and add others on: symbol, feasting, keepsake, music, blessing. I would look to these key thoughts to be my inspiration to hold closely in the desire to share extravagantly with my daughter the riches of being a woman at the nascency of this rare and precious journey.

DSC_0101

hand painted peace flags dancing in the wind

First rite of passage: the language of symbols

DSC_0030

Japanese “Girl Day” doll balancing the buckets of life.

I found her on Ebay and she was absolutely beautiful. A Japanese “Girl’s Day” doll, bearing the face of a sweet child while hefting two watery buckets. She looked like a silken interpretation of the scales of justice. The doll was managing both youth and adulthood as well as balancing both beauty and hard work, all on her kimono-graced shoulders.

That’s her. I thought. That doll is my daughter at 14. Young. Determined. And yet, trying to figure out her life still blushing with the pink hues of childhood. I knew that when choosing this special gift, it painted a picture, created a symbol, of where she might be right now in her life. I also kept in mind when looking for that special something, her great admiration for all things Japanese. I knew this would be a winner.

On the day of the rite of passage event, along with the girl doll, there were also other symbols that gestured toward my daughter’s own uniqueness and the theme of “coming of age”: a collection of beads to string together “the stars and moons” of her life, a candle moving from room to room to gently reminding us all of the ongoing presence of light in our lives, and a swath of diaphanous fabrics draping around shelves and furniture, subtley nudging us toward thoughts of mystery.

A well-given, or well-placed symbol is a thing of beauty. It does not demand explanation, but when given, it brings rich layers of meaning into its form, shape, presence. The small acts of placing thoughtful gifts of your own awareness into the path of others, are offerings that are deep and lasting.

DSC_0035

Beads to string the “moon and stars” of your life.