Earlier this week I spoke with Renee Baribeau in preparation for the upcoming Shamanic Dreamkeepers Summit Renee is hosting with Linda Fitch. Renee asked about my daily sacred practice. Life with a three year old means that some days I just don't have the energy for much of a sacred practice, but when possible I walk a labyrinth, work with my SoulCollage® cards, journal, or just draw a card from the Mother's Wisdom deck for inspiration.
Renee knowingly pointed out that life with a three year old in itself can be a sacred practice, and isn't that the truth?! "Motherhood is the steepest path to enlightenment," the Mother's Wisdom card of the day once reminded me. It's good to be reminded that daily sacred practice comes in all shapes and sizes. Saint Benedict taught that prayer is in all things, and that came into sharp focus for me today through way of a broken glass.
My son was having lunch at his grandparents, so I had a little time to myself. Intent to start my sacred practice, I hurriedly gathered up his birthday invitations, which I had made at two in the morning last night. I had just put the final touches on them to hand them over to my husband for delivery, when I knocked a glass off my desk. It shattered all over my office floor. I bit my lip and took a deep breath, stepping carefully around my desk to avoid slicing my bare feet. As I swept up shards of glass, my head began to throb from a tiredness-induced headache. Deep breaths kept the dizziness at bay. Seeing glass shards on the large area rug, I powered up my hand-held vacuum and tried to bear the pain in my head while working on my knees. The deafening drone of the vacuum amplified my headache to the point that it was all I could do to stare intently at the carpet's jewel tones and breathe.
With each roaring pass of the vacuum, I suddenly became aware of how much brighter the carpet was becoming - like I was polishing a jewel. At that moment, I decided to make this my sacred practice for the day, headache and all. Instead of just vacuuming the area most likely to have been dusted with broken glass, I polished the whole rug. By the time I was done, my headache was as strong as ever, but it had slipped into the back of my awareness and I no longer felt martyred by the pain.
I finished my sacred vacuuming practice with a smile, and then promptly went off to take care of my searing headache.
With this story, I'm not saying that I think we should just power through pain in the name of enlightenment or sacred practice. Especially if, like most of us, your many roles and responsibilities make it easy to put yourself last. Self-care is a dwelling-place, and pain comes knocking to make us pay attention and give us information we need to know. A shattered glass today taught me something: Sacred practice is defined by me - my attention and intention. Feng Shui teaches that attention and intention are our most powerful allies to living harmoniously. The next time I think my sacred practice is about to be side-tracked by mundane tasks, I hope I remember the day I practiced sacred vacuuming.