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New Year Ritual

New Year 2011

Ah the New Year has come at last, I am caught facing the departure of the guest and the ragged edges of the previous celebrations and leftovers.

Four beds to change and ornaments to be gently wrapped and tucked away.  This year I am inventorying the children’s gift ornaments with photographs so they can take them to their future celebrations.  I already have a box for each of them of the handcrafted paper and tube selections that were created over the years in scouts and school.  It just feels right as though this is part of the launch process.

The pup is content for the moment and dreaming away in the patch of sunlight from the crystal clear blue sky and there is a tiny hum from the solar panel reader feeding energy data into this computer.

Now is a preparation for communion with the ancients of my tree.   After the Fall Solstice cleaning, events of harvest, fear, Thanksgiving, and prayer it is now time to put away all the distractions, lights, clanging bells, and deceptions in order to discover the point of meaning.  Hanukkah and Christmas were the final year end going out of business sale for teaching the children about our history, tree roots, and mythology.   I approach the adult days of what is true as though it is a “practice” or a treasure hunt to my deepest self.

I must have a wee bit of Ireland in my lineage for I am driven to clean every nook and cranny to prepare for the New Year and the wild ruckus which will release my fears and send them courageously into action.  I do not wish to mask this event, this opening, this pure moment of expansion for the body and soul.  I have little understanding for those who drink the emotions away and hide in noisy crowds and stupor; claiming this is the command performance for a year gone by.

My hand and cloth steer along the baseboards of my home, I find myself humming in my new emerging voice.  The pup has nosed out a few of the spots I have missed and now the white of the satin paint accents again the strength of the wood floor and the upright line of the wall.  I have honored its work and efforts of the year past.    I have taken the time to light the details and lighten the stacks of confusion and disorder.

What talent/gift will I practice this year – just 15 minutes a day set aside as my Epiphany Practice?  For a bonfire of burning Christmas Trees is not a part of meaning for me.

I carry the recycling bin to the curb for tomorrow’s pick up and I am remembering the lovely meditation book by Gunilla Norris called BEING HOME.   Book in hand, I put myself next to pup in sunlight and read; breathing into the words:

Taking Out the Trash
The trash bin is overflowing under the sink.
It’s time to feed the big outdoor garbage can again.  How quickly it happens…how astonishing that every week my bins are full to the brim with the wastes of my daily existence.  Here I am dumping everything from carrot peelings to junk mail.  What a mess I make!

I try to remember that You planned waste
as an essential part of life.  It, too, is holy.  I want to keep in mind the pine tree by the front door and how it keeps dropping its numberless needles – a tall and humble prayer.

I want to shed my waste with quiet reverence like the pine.  I want some how to have a conscience, a responsibility, for what it means personally, socially, and ecologically to have this much trash EVERY WEEK.  Help me to stop this hurry to get my psychological and actual trash out of sight and out of mind and learn instead.

This task is a kind of surrender…surrender to the knowledge that by being alive and human I do make a human mess as a pine tree makes its kind of mess.  Let me surrender any fake and pristine sense of not affecting my fellow beings and my environment with my waste.  Let me own my part of the landfill…the one outside of town with the bulldozer and the psychological one we all share.

Keep me mindful of what I take into my home, the items brought to substitute for real living – the food and drink I consume instead of examining my feelings.  Help me slowly to surrender all excess.

Yes, this is it – surrender – that is the word I am seeking.  I wish to simplify my space and life; cleaning and trash removal to surrender. It is grounding and reassuring to know that the folks that have gone before me have practiced this discipline with plainness and repetition for hundreds of years, finding surrender and success within as their hands glide the cloth without to bless the strength and character of the structure.  The work of the heart, the work of self-love, the work of building energy, warmth, and momentum; ah this is the work the hands know and causes the heart to hum.

Ancient wisdom translated into contemporary chore, a practice of enlightenment and surrender.

Here I am again asking if you have a practice which brings you meaning and love?  Do you find joy in the tasks your hands are completing? I often find more meaning in the daily or yearly tasks I practice for myself, rather than in the organized rituals of my contemporaries and groups. Are you a person who finds meaning within group activities? Or in those moments of the routine?   Do you have rituals that bring meaning to you for the New Year?

Related Reading you might also enjoy:

An Idea To Ponder
Mug vs Heart
Questions of Practice

Looking forward to your comments and idea sharing.  Please feel free to share this on Stumbleupon or Facebook or Twitter as you find the buttons under the Green Share Button.   If you like what you read here one is able to subscribe by RSS or email and keep the good reads coming.

Happy 2011!

20 Responses to “New Year Ritual”

  1. Talon Says:

    Spring and autumn are my natural clearing of the “trash” – both mental and actual in my life…both times of preparation for me…one for a return to the garden and the other for a return to the home…

    It is always nice to restore order to the house after the hectic holiday period…it’s like the house takes a deep breath along with me :)
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..Power Meeting =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    I too clean big time during the spring and autumn, but this is preparation for the work that happens in the dark – the 12 days of Christmas period of life – So for Rosh Hashana ( not sure of spelling at the moment of freedom to type) I do the big home and self cleaning work. Halloween I address my great fears and then I work at keeping the darkness lit with the December blast of religious fervor ( I am no good at the secular version of this time of the year) Now I am writing about Epiphany and focusing my time to truly explore a GIFT that I have received as a sole/soul practice. Last year I spent Epiphany practice by working on learning to sing again – just about 15 minutes everyday – I did not gain much vocal strength or range but it led me to chanting practice with a group which truly opens my heart and spirit – refreshes and renews.
    This year I seem to be working on curiosity and questioning – two of my gifts that are unused often.
    Nice to be back with it here – and to see all your nice posts and pictures while I was away…
    Thank you for your kind words.

  2. vered | blogger for hire Says:

    I am driven to deep cleaning too… usually in the spring. Decluttering however I do all the time!
    .-= vered | blogger for hire´s last blog ..Christmas in Miami =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Yes – I want no distractions cluttering up my winter deep practice time – I think of making my life a monastery, sanctuary or retreat center. I declutter the house constantly too – although my desk often looks very messy – I consider that creativity in action and when the muse leaves so does the clutter or stacks.

    Loved you pictures about Miami – sounds like a good trip and get away. My family did a lot of cross country skiing to get away. We all seemed to be totally put off by the secular part of Christmas this year – people just seemed frantic and not very joyous to be around…

  3. J.D. Meier Says:

    > I am driven to clean every nook and cranny to prepare for the New Year
    I think that’s a great way to set the stage. Especially if this is part of how you recharge and renew.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Guide Your Path with Vision- Values- and Goals =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    When clerics go on retreat they simplify down to the basic needs. If I had the money I would go with the folks from Seattle to the retreat center on the Peninsula and walk, be silent, sing, and meditate for a number of days and then talk and share our stories to refresh and renew. So the past several years I have just done this for myself. All monks spend some time raking the sand or washing the floors to prepare for the quiet time of the soul
    It is no longer my nature to keep driving myself – I am working on not pushing the river
    Thank you for coming by and always your gracious comments they are so appreciated.

  4. Dave Says:

    Patricia! Happy New Year to you!! :-)

    I must admit that I have no desire to clean, but I have every desire to throw myself in to doing meaningful work. I’m anxious to get on with the new year and fill it with fulfilling activities that bring me and the people in my life great happiness.

    You pup is adorable btw.

    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Project 30 Days- Update 1 =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Happy New Year to you also – I have little desire to clean, mostly to remove distractions so that I can truly HEAR, Listen and Love.

    Yes, I want to find meaningful work, I have been blessed with a lifetime of meaningful work, but never the funds to go with that work. I need the funds to pay my way…although I believe that spirit feeds us all – I am also an extremely response abled person and for me that includes food, shelter, and other essentials – as you well know.

    thank you for coming by and yes this puppy is just so happy and such fabulous company for me – we have meaningful walks everyday now – I did not even know I wanted to share time with a pup – Who knew?

    Hubs and I are calling it our grand child! Takes the pressure off the kiddos


  5. Patricia Says:

    March is my time of serious reflection and cleaning because it is my birth month–my own new year.

    I do participate in group studies and contemplation but my most meaningful times are in the solitude of my sanctuary.
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Sunday- solving problems… =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    Happy New Year – creating our own sanctuary is wonder full indeed and I enjoy walking meditation too and coming back to the shelter of my own space.

    August is my new year month and I do lots of cleaning in September as the weather cools down.

    I am also searching out a new spiritual community which is for me, not just a place where I work and perform a role and function. Our religious communities that are within an hour range of us are just getting too “Christian” and judgmental, so much of my time is spent debriefing this fervent religiosity into mediation, dialogue and communication.
    Ignorance is so hard on people – especially children. I miss the diversity and the creativity possibilities

    Happy New Year to you…

  6. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I admire your zeal .. Christmas trees can be recycled in many ways – one they do here in the North East – take them to the sand dunes and the wardens place them .. they become natural barriers as the sand builds up around them.

    I’m still decluttering and definitely feel better once it’s done .. I have a hard task this week .. am off to Cornwall to clear my mother’s flat – pressurised by the rushing family .. still must do – but need some time for me there too – that may be difficult.

    So decluttering in more ways than one .. each day a little – but I love your way of doing it with love .. and am not surprised Zippity is enjoying her little space and patch of sunlight ..

    Have a great New Year .. and happy times ahead .. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Confiscated Booze- Rock Dust and Turkeys what do they have in common =-.

    Patricia Reply:

    We are using our tree to build up our bank and all the downed branches from the Fall storms. Our rangers are using wild strawberry plants and logs to build up the beach areas here.

    I have 2 file boxes left of my mum’s things, must keep records for 5 years after death but I can now shred the forms that are 5 years old and that feels freeing too.

    I am working at not being driving or pushing to get theses jobs done, more like the Buddhist concept of – Before Enlightenment chop wood and carry water, after Enlightenment chop wood and carry water. It is just a part of life and more self loving experience if I do not make it into a competition or athletic event

    Happy New Year to you too. Will be over to read during reading time this afternoon. Thank you for your grand comments – greatly appreciated.

    Nice too to have the computer cleaned and new OS…it is working much, much better

  7. suzen Says:

    Hi Patricia! This was an awesomely beautiful post! I, too, enjoy the ritual of year end cleaning/decluttering. I always feel better when I know I have discarded (in various ways) what is no longer needed to travel into 2011. Each year there is an absence of the stuff that filled my space on a physical plane as I proceed to simplify my surroundings. I do it mentally/emotionally as well. I want to travel lightly on my path so feel that its so necessary to discard in order to create the best energies to move forward.

    I think the year end ritual has a bit more zing to it than the other 3 seasonal purges I do. I find it exhilerating – all of it – especially the cleaning! So glad I’m not alone, haha!

    Patricia Reply:

    Not alone as we travel lightly, I like to free up and open up the space in my life.

    As much as I like writing, it is once again a volunteer pursuit as I approach the 3 year mark. I am reconsidering too how much I give away and volunteer and how uncomfortable that is presently making me.

    Happy New Year

  8. Arts Web Show Says:

    That is a very worthewhile ritual and i like the 15 minutes epiphany idea.
    About waste, there is not a lot you can do about it when everything comes in plastic packaging.
    Carrot peel rots into the earth then comes back to life as nutrients for plants and such.
    But plastic,

  9. Patricia Says:

    Folks used to spend about an hour a day after sunset working on their Epiphany practice if they were devote Christians, but now it is just about the song the 12 days of Christmas – giving more gifts ( which many do know know is about the arrival of the Wise Men in the story so think that is part of Christmas gift giving too…ah me
    Our recycling group has co-opted the practice for recycling live Trees for city parks usage…

    This is one celebration i personally do not wish to loose – reminding myself of my gifts and talents for even just a few minutes a day has more meaning for me that nearly all the other celebrations combined.

    Plastics are so hard to deal with – and yet can be so clean and protective too? a Dilemma for sure

  10. Betsy Wuebker Says:

    Hi Patricia – Loved this beautiful post. It reminded me of a concept my friend Hinda discusses about honoring each task. I, too, am in the simplification mode. We’re moving to a townhouse in a few weeks, and while there is plenty of space, we are using the opportunity to let go of things. It feels good. I love the feeling and the way the house looks when all the Christmas decorations are packed away. Spare, and appreciating the lines, colors, woodgrains, and textures in the bright light of winter. Happy New Year! xox

  11. Patricia Says:

    Oh your move sounds so good and getting rid of things so…well simplifying Ahhhhh sigh

    Then I think of townhouses here and many have no gardens? will you have some?

    My cousin and his wife moved into a stunning townhouse in Vancouver several years ago – it allowed them to retire and travel earlier

    I look at my brother, who is dying, and he is having trouble letting go of his house – he can not see it as anything but an investment…I keep saying this is the time you were saving for!!! so you can just enjoy each day and let go…

    My fellow is not ready- he only sees it as a conflict and he does everything to avoid conflict…it is just a life lesson…I got the puppy to take pressure off the kiddos for grandchildren ( no one is ready yet – except him!)

    Happy New Year – wonderful move ahead.

  12. Dot Says:

    I like annual rituals, but mine seemed a bit played out this year. Maybe I need to reinvent them as you have. Yours certainly seem meaningful to you!

  13. Patricia Says:

    I am always searching to find the meaning in actions and things and meaning it the crucial variable for me….essential to my functioning