Year and a Day Journal #34: April 26, 2016

I’m currently job-hunting.  I know that my job in this foreign country is only going to be relevant a little longer, and once June is up, so is my job stability.  Thankfully, they love me over here, so they’ve basically said that I could come back whenever I wanted, but I’ve got a lot of stuff to do in the States and I can’t bail on those responsibilities to go on prancing around in a foreign country, sniffing the foreign flowers and learning a foreign language.

*Sigh*  Such is life.

It’s times when I am job-hunting that I truly begin to think about my abilities and talents.  I see qualifications for certain jobs and I can’t help but think, “Dang.  Why can’t I do that?”  Sometimes it’s not so cut and dry; for example, I can’t just will into existence five years of experience in a certain field (although sometimes employers seem to be under the impression that us unemployed folks can indeed perform such miracles).  But I sometimes think, Why don’t I know how to use that program?  Why can’t I work better with children?  Why didn’t I get ESL certified?

The nice thing about working on a resume, however, is that I do get to actually think about the skills that I do have.  For example (I’m thinking to myself at this very moment), I am an excellent typist.  I can do 120 wpm if I’m really booking it, and I rarely have mistakes.  I also possess some pretty stellar spelling and grammar, which probably stems from a childhood of reading and writing for hours on end, plus this year I’m spending teaching English as a foreign language.  Nothing makes you understand a concept quite like pretending you know everything about it.

So, for this journal entry, I’m working with a prompt that’s kind of an extension of yesterday’s prompt: How do your talents and skills play into your Craft?  How have they influenced your path?

Yesterday, of course, I talked about music, so if you’re interested in that topic, you can just keep scrolling down.  But today I’ll try to touch on some other skills that I have.  If it sounds like I’m getting a big head, just remember that I’m job-hunting and I have to be able to pitch myself like a pro.  Also it’s my blog, so….

  1. Writing.  It seems like the sensible skill to start with, seeing as this whole blog wouldn’t exist if I didn’t sincerely enjoy writing.  Writing is really at the core of my Craft, because I usually focus my thoughts on spirituality through writing, as you can all see here.  In addition to this blog, I keep a hand-written journal.  It’s not exactly a Book of Shadows, per se, but an actual journal that I’ve kept for awhile.  It has regular, everyday entries in it, but as my life has gotten progressively Witchier, so have the journal entries.  Recently, I’ve taken to bringing my journal with me into my ritual space.  I’ll light the candles and then contemplate my ritual.  I’ll write down my thoughts in my journal, along with my intention for the ritual, and any incantations or things I do in the process.  Then I’ll actually do the ritual, and make some post-ritual notes.  It’s turned out to be a great focusing project.  I’m sure that this idea will eventually turn into a BoS at some point, but right now it’s just a way of focusing my thoughts.  Writing is really at the center of my Craft; more than that, however, it has entirely shaped my path.  For example, if I hadn’t become completely obsessed with fantasy stories, I never would have thought twice about wanting to be a witch, and then I probably would never have thought twice about wanting to be a Witch.  Reading has always had a great draw for me, and more than that, emulating the kinds of fantastic things that I read, in my own writing.  I’ve always wanted to be the next J.K. Rowling (as ridiculous as that sounds these days, because nobody can compare to Queen Jo), and somehow, despite the fact that I’ve started literally hundreds of different stories, I always come back to fantasy.  Nothing gets me as excited as the idea of magic, and I suppose that eventually turned into a fascination with magick.
  2. Dance.  Now, I’m not exactly a phenomenal dancer.  I danced basically from the beginning of my schooling until I graduated from high school, and then picked up less formal dance in college (such as Zumba), and I consider it to be something that I’m not too awful at.  But the great thing about dance is that it entirely engages your body in something that is utterly unique to you.  Nobody dances in exactly the same way, nobody reacts the exact same way to music, and giving dance as an offering to the Universe is a beautiful and visual experience.  So far I haven’t used dance much in ritual because I don’t have a lot of space, but recognizing dance as something that could be a part of ritual has opened me up the idea that, really, physical movement of any kind can be something sacred to myself and to the Universe.  Walking down the street, feeling my heartbeat in my chest–these things are spiritual experiences.
  3. Art.  My artistic ability is kind of like my dance ability–it’s always been something I’ve done for fun, though I don’t think I would get any critical acclaim for it.  That being said, making art for spiritual purposes or for ritual is, like anything else, not something that is going to be judged by others.  I think there is something highly sacred in creating, and whether that is an arts n’ crafts style project or a classically-done painting doesn’t really matter.  It can be really helpful to get out the paintbrushes and glue when it comes to making your tools or decorations for your altar or for different sabbats.  After all, many of us are Witches on a budget, and while it’s great to support your local metaphysical bookshop or local artist, sometimes it’s just better to make your own representation of the Goddess for your altar, rather than drop $50 on something you saw on Etsy (though there’s nothing wrong with doing that, either, if you have the money).  Sometimes, making your own things is the best way to forge a real connection between you and an item or decoration.
  4. Being a good friend.  This one is not exactly a skill, though I think it can be challenging for some.  I wanted to put this idea in here because I recently did some off-the-cuff spellwork that really revolved around one of my good friends.  Last weekend, Oriole (whose code name we’ve seen before on this blog) and I were out walking in the main part of town, running some errands.  She tripped pretty badly earlier on in the day, almost hurting herself.  While we were out walking, she tripped again, quite hard, and less than thirty seconds later, she tripped a third time.  Of course, because she didn’t get hurt, it was pretty funny, and we were of course laughing our butts off.  But in reality, I was getting a bit concerned.  It wasn’t like Oriole to be particularly clumsy, and she already faces quite a few health problems that could definitely be aggravated if she took a tumble.  So, while we were in a shop waiting to be helped by the shop assistant, I grounded myself and set an intention to keep her safe and healthy.  I know that it seems like a strange spell, but I just filled the nearest thing to her–her backpack–with positive energy, and hoped it would keep her safe.  Of course, I don’t know for sure if it was just a coincidence, but she didn’t trip or stumble any more for the rest of the day, even though we got a bit tipsy at a restaurant.  I know there is some controversy over casting spells on your friends who are unaware that you practice Witchcraft, or could be against the idea of having a spell cast on them, but I do know Oriole pretty well and she is someone who would kind of shrug and say, “Alright then, cool.”

Well, it’s gotten pretty late and I’m pretty exhausted, so I’m going to wrap this up.  Perhaps if I think of more ideas later, I’ll add them.

I hope that you all get the opportunities to use your own special skills in your Craft.  Feel free to share any experiences you’ve had in the comments.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

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Year and a Day Journal #33: April 25th, 2016

Today’s blog post comes after another week-long dry spell in which I haven’t been getting a lot of writing done.  And, once more, this is a question of my own design.  It’s kind of strange to think that I started my Year and a Day Journal at the first of November, and now it’s almost the opposite time of the Wheel of the Year, Beltane.  And yet, I’m only about a month’s worth of journal entries into the endeavor.  At this rate, how long would it take me to finish 366 journals?  Er…well, if there are twelve months in a year and each month’s worth of journals takes me approximately a half-year, then I should finish up after about…six years?

28-year-old me could very well still be a novice Witch.

But anyway, like I was saying, today’s post is of my own choosing, so here we go.  Does music play a role in your Craft?  How do you use it in a spiritual sense?  

I was inspired to write on this topic today because I have been absolutely obsessed recently with a Swiss musician/composer named Adrian von Ziegler.  I stumbled upon his music one day when I was searching for some meditation music or something to listen to while doing yoga.  I was feeling particularly drawn to Celtic music, so I just searched on YouTube for Celtic instrumental music, and some of his stuff came up.  What a lucky day that was, because now I listen to his stuff all the time.  One of his songs in particular, “Fear No Darkness,” has become a song I regularly listen to and I’ve been considering purchasing, along with some of his other works.  (In the country I’m living in right now, torrenting or illegally downloading music is really not frowned upon at all, and is considered the normal thing to do.  However, I usually use iTunes and really tend to shy away from anything illegal.  I’ve been referred to as a goody-two-shoes on numerous occasions in my life.)  Anyway, I was on his website and listening around for the best songs and, yeah, I think I’ll buy some.  I highly recommend his stuff, and you can listen to it on YouTube or on his website first, if you want a tester.

In any case, this kind of music does something really powerful for a magical setting–it puts you in the correct mindset.  As a novice Witch, something I really get sucked into is doubting myself or my ability (and sometimes even the existence of magick itself), and yet, when I listen to this kind of music, I momentarily forget that I’m even in a 21st century world, in a run-down 20th century apartment.  For a moment, I think I’m thrust back into a land of myth and a time of magic (I’m a Merlin nerd), and I can do anything.

Composers like Adrian write with this idea of transcending time in mind.  You only have to look at the titles of some of his works (“Ancient Storm,” “Kingdom of Bards,” “Druidic Dreams,” and even “Morrigan” are some of the names he’s given his pieces) to understand that this music is meant to bring you to that sacred place of the moors, the forests, the lochs–even if you can’t leave where you are.

Obviously, I’m lauding prerecorded music right now.  But I haven’t yet talked about another equally powerful–if not more powerful–method of invoking magick, or even just getting into a magickal mindset.  That is, of course, producing music yourself.

I was very lucky to be raised by parents who tried to afford me every opportunity.  As a result, I have been able to travel all over, and, even at home, I’ve tried everything from acting auditions to modeling to dance.  Not everything stuck long-term, but I took piano lessons for eight years, starting at age six.  I never had the passion for it, but it gave me the ability to read music and I can still play a bit.  It really set me up for my next instrument, however, which was violin.  I started that when I was ten and I played all through high school and college, and I still play (I didn’t lug it across the ocean, but when I go home I’ll pick it up again).  I also sing, and I’ve sung in choirs and done solos for various things, including church, weddings, and even a performance at the Sydney Opera House (like I said, I’m extremely fortunate).

It is certainly not far-fetched to say that music has always been and will always be a huge, important part of my life.  It only makes sense, then, that I would incorporate it into my Craft.  I’ve already tried doing this before.  For example, if you go back to my post about Yule, I wrote about how I wore jingly earrings to bring sacred sound into my ritual–like an offering to the Universe–and how I sang the song “As the Dark Awaits the Dawn.”  It not only was a defining and focusing part of the ritual, but it truly was an offering of my skill to the Universe, to the elements, to the energies of whatever gods or goddesses were at play.  For me, singing was something so powerful to give, because while most offerings laid on an altar or out in nature are things from nature which you change in some way (for example, making a flower braid), the gift of singing is something which comes very much so from me.  It only takes the things that nature gives me to sustain myself.  And it truly is a whole-body experience.

I’m looking forward to going back home and being able to use my violin to do further offerings or rituals.  I have a very woodsy backyard, and I can definitely picture myself wandering around playing among the trees.  The best part is that it doesn’t have to be amazing.  It just has to come from me.

So, this one was pretty short and sweet.  Music is great and I definitely find a place for it in my Craft.  There are many other things which I have incorporated or would like to incorporate into my Craft as well, which I’m sure I’ll detail here in the future.

Just one week ’til Beltane!

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

Am I Appropriating Culture?

Alright, everyone, here is the big post that I’ve been saying I’m going to do.  It’s a lot of questioning, so if you have any answers, please let me know.

It’s no secret that cultural appropriation has been a hot topic in the last several years.  Things that flew under the radar for a very long time, such as dressing up as a Native American for Halloween, white people wearing dreadlocks, people getting tattoos that they don’t fully understand, Americans claiming to have achieved Eastern spiritualism when really they just do yoga a couple times a week…these are all being shoved out into the limelight as cultural insensitivity and appropriation.  I, as a white, middle-class, Midwestern, European-descended American, probably could never understand the full meaning behind the phrase “Namaste,” let alone take on the heavy history of southern gospel music, or a Native American pow-wow, or…you know, basically anything except when I was born and raised with: a Midwest American lifestyle with a nod to my Norwegian heritage thrown in at Christmas in the form of lutefisk and lefse.

Now, just because we’re born in one position doesn’t mean we can’t see something better or even equally interesting and want to learn about that or strive for it.  I don’t have any heritage from the country that I’m in right now, but I was interested in it, and I studied it, and I came here to teach English.  I met little resistance on the ethics front because I’m white and this country is mostly white, so nobody was questioning if I was taking on the “white man’s burden” of going to Africa or India or something and teaching English.  (I personally don’t find anything wrong in going to Africa and volunteering or teaching English, but I recognize the tones of colonialism behind it and why it can be such a controversial thing.)  Anyway, I’ve been immersed in this culture for over half a year now, and I’d studied it long before I came, so if I go home and cook the food from this country and speak the language of this country and teach my children the traditions of this country, I won’t really feel like it’s cultural appropriation, because I like to think I understand it pretty well.

Also, one has to consider that in America, we are like a melting pot (though I prefer the term “tossed salad”–many different parts that offer their own unique flavor and bring something different to the table but work very well all together), and therefore every American is introduced to a whole slew of cultures.  I’m guessing that if you account for the whole United States, you could probably find first-generation immigrants from basically every country in the world.  So, of course, even if my heritage is Scandinavian, I can be introduced to–and even fall in love with–another culture.  Take Mexican culture, for example.  Near where I live, there are a lot of Mexican immigrants.  It’s not hard to find Mexican shops or restaurants in my area.  I even volunteered for a few weeks in a school where the student body was nearly 70% Latino.  I studied Spanish in high school and have used it on more than one occasion to order food, to help limited-English customers at the store where I worked, or to help Latino students at various schools.  I used it in Mexico when my family and I went there for vacation.  Mexican culture is something that I find very interesting and I consider myself to know at least a bit about.  I was, after all, one of the officers of the Spanish Club at my school and I did win some awards at Festival Quijote (a traveling one-day event for high schools celebrating Spanish and Mexican culture).  That being said, I would never consider myself to have a full understanding of what Mexicans have gone through.  I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to celebrate their holidays in the same way that I like celebrating the holidays of the country I’m in now.  Does it have something to do with race, with perceived differences in us based on the color of our skin?  Maybe.  Perhaps it’s because I haven’t spent more than seven days in Mexico, and that was all at a resort in Cancun drinking pina coladas.  But I know a woman, a white, probably Scandinavian-descended woman who lives in my region, who loves Mexican culture so much that she takes a group of women there every year for a retreat, she decorated her house with a lot of Mexican-inspired elements, she changed her name to sound more Latina (her name ended with a consonant and she added an “a” to the end), and she even adopted Mexican children (no, I’m not kidding).  As much as I’m inspired by and admire this woman for a ton of reasons (she’s a lifelong vegetarian, a local-business supporter, a fitness instructor at age 65, and she grows an urban garden), I can’t help but feel like her adopting Mexican culture (and Mexican children) seems a little out-of-place.  Maybe even inappropriate.  After all, cultural appropriation is a symptom of privilege.  Many Mexican immigrants have to come here, learn English, and “act white” just to survive, but this woman can take on Mexican culture as a kind of intense hobby or lifestyle choice.

I think that, by now, many of you can probably understand where I’m going with this.  As I’ve said a few times, my heritage is half-Scandinavian, and I celebrate that with my family.  (The other half is mainland European but we don’t celebrate it as much.)  For most of my life, I was pretty content on living with the traditions that my family had always had, including going to Catholic church, celebrating Christian holidays, and being a pretty patriotic American.  Then I started branching into studying the culture and language of the country I’m in now, as a matter of interest (and I’ve been doing that for the last five years).

But you all know that I’m on a journey, and this path, at least the one I’m trying to walk on, seems to simultaneously come from a pretty specific tradition and sort of borrow from a ton of different traditions all at once.

Most Witches that I know do at least something with the Wheel of the Year, which includes these old Celtic holidays of Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas/Lughnasadh, and Mabon.  They maybe draw inspiration from the gods and goddesses of several traditions, including ancient Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse, Slavic, Germanic, and others.  It’s a pretty open path, so you can kind of choose anything you want and roll with it.  It’s a beautiful thing, for the most part.

But here I am, kind of preparing myself for Beltane, scrolling through Pinterest and finding cool ideas, reading about the origins of this holiday, and realizing something pretty important.  This is not my heritage.  As absolutely fascinating as the Pagan history of the British Isles is, I’m not British, I’m not Irish.  I’m drawn to this tradition, and yet it feels like it must be far removed from me.

I know that you don’t have to have a heritage of Witchcraft to start on the path (at least, that seems to be the general consensus among a lot of practitioners although there is some contention).  In fact, thinking that one must fit into a certain box in order to be a Witch is pretty damaging.  But for the last few years of my life, I’ve been actively trying to educate myself on how to be a better human being, and part of that has been becoming conscious of things like cultural appropriation and sensitivity.  How can I sit down one day and decide that I’m going to follow a calendar that I’ve never followed in my life?  How can I wrap my mouth around these old words and act out these old traditions when I don’t have the context of them?  Even if I studied them for years the way that I studied Spanish, can I just adopt them, as I see fit, as a luxury?  After all, the same privilege is at work here–Pagans have been killed throughout the ages for not assimilating to Christianity, but here I am with the privilege to say, “Well, now I’m Pagan (or Neo-Pagan)!”  Doesn’t it have the same bad taste as if somebody decided they were going to align themselves with Native American traditions and spirituality when they haven’t been invited and haven’t had to experience the pain of the past?  Or (and this is the question I’m asking)…maybe it really is okay?

And as much as I know that there are Witches out there who fight against this notion, I must ask myself a question–even in the midst of the Reclaiming tradition, should I, someone whose family has been Christian as far back as I can fathom, really seek to consider myself a Witch?

Should I forget being politically correct for a moment and just do what I want, as long as I harm none?

These are all questions with which I have been grappling.

I’m eager to receive any comments or ideas from anyone.  If you have an interesting thought on this, or if you have also questioned this, please leave a comment and I’ll answer you as quickly as I can.

Thank you for your help and support.

Blessed be.

)O(

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #32: April 15th, 2016

Well, despite my hope that my next post would be the very important one that I want to write, I haven’t been able to get my thoughts together on that quite yet.  I’m sure it will come soon, but in the meantime, here’s another regular journal.

Today I’m making my own prompt, which is inspired by my boyfriend because his birthday is around this time, and I’ve been really thinking about him a lot.  The last time I saw him in person was last summer, before I moved to this country, so it’s been a very long time now.  By the time I get back, it will have been almost a year since I saw him last.

So, thinking on my boyfriend, I would say that this prompt is as follows–How are magick and love related in your life?  Is there a place for magick in sex?  

Firstly, let me say that obviously magick in your love life is going to depend on your partner’s outlook on Witchcraft.  When my boyfriend and I started dating, I was, for all intents and purposes, a Christian.  By the time I started looking into Witchcraft, we had already been dating for three years.  With these kinds of situations, it can be a blessing and a curse.  On one hand, if you’ve been together for so long and through so much, there is every chance that your relationship will be strong enough and your partner will love you so much that it doesn’t really matter what your spiritual path is.  After all, religion is only one aspect of the whole person that is you.  However, spirituality is also intrinsically tied with your beliefs and the things that make you who you are, and if you pull a 180 on your partner, that can severely damage your connection.  They might see your new beliefs as conflicting with their own, or they might even think you’ve changed from the person they fell in love with initially.

For example, my boyfriend was raised pretty fundamentalist Christian, and his mom is likewise pretty conservative.  However, my boyfriend himself has been questioning organized religion recently, and while I think he does still believe in the Christian God, he’s a bit more open to considering religion in new ways.  This is beneficial to me, of course, because while he doesn’t really understand exactly what this path means to me (and how could he really, from thousands of miles away?), he understands that it’s important for me to investigate my beliefs.  We just won’t tell his (or my) mom yet.

In any case, magick can of course be involved in your love life.  Maybe your partner gets involved in your rituals, or maybe they don’t because it’s not their path, and that’s okay.  Maybe someday you want a handfasting instead of a church marriage.

Maybe you like to work with the sexual energy that you and your partner have.  As long as everything is consensual and your partner is okay with you using magick or working with energy in the bedroom, then there is no reason that you can’t bring Witchcraft into your love life.  It’s up to you and your partner to decide how you would like to use magick in the bedroom.  Perhaps you just want to spice things up, or maybe you’re looking to enhance fertility (again, consent is mandatory here).  Really, the possibilities are endless.

I can’t say that I can give a lot of advice in this department.  One, this is a Novice Witch blog, so I don’t have a lot of experience in general.  Two, my only romantic and sexual partner is thousands of miles away, so I haven’t had the opportunity to experience magick in my romance.

If you’re looking to incorporate magick into your love life, I recommend scouring some metaphysical bookshops to find works that discuss this facet of Witchcraft.  You can also get involved in Beltane stuff, which will be coming up soon, since it’s a holiday of fertility.

As long as everything is safe, consensual, and based on trust, you shouldn’t be afraid to get a little adventurous!

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #31: April 6th, 2016

Hmm…well, it’s been about ten days since I’ve posted, according to my blog.  I hate going so long between posts, but as we all know, sometimes life gets pretty busy.  In this case, I’m preparing for some family to visit me in this country, and since this country requires lots of preparation before travel (proof of itinerary, visas, certifications, the whole shebang…) I’ve been sending lots of emails and getting in touch with a very slow travel company.  Hopefully, though, everything will be taken care of soon and all I have to worry about is just showing them a good time once they get here.

Now that I’ve shown up to the party again, however, I’ve got some stuff I would like to say.  Firstly, I had a star-struck moment today when Cara Mia from cutewitch772 on YouTube totally mentioned me on her Pagan Perspective video.  She referred to the couple times that I’ve talked about days of the week correspondences and working with gods/goddesses of those energies, and coincidentally enough, both times I mentioned them I talked about Tuesday and Ares.  So, since she does Tuesday videos for the Pagan Perspective collaboration on YouTube, she talked about how she relates to Tuesday energy.  I’ll tell you, every Wednesday I go to the Pagan Perspective channel to watch her Tuesday video (since Wednesday morning here is pretty much Tuesday night in the States) and today I was putting on my makeup when I heard her say that she was reading my blog.  I had to rewind the video a bit because I was like, “No way did she just mention me!”  So, Cara, if you’re reading this, a big thank you for making me feel like a million bucks.

I have a big post coming up that isn’t going to be part of the Year and a Day Journal series, because it’s kind of beyond these little daily-style prompts.  It’s not something to just kind of think about for the day and move on, but something that really gets at the heart of this path.  Hopefully it’ll be the next thing I put out; we’ll see about how much time I have this week.

In the meantime, I’m still on the lookout for prompts.  I just Googled “year and a day journal witchcraft” to try to find some pre-made journal prompts and…lo and behold…my blog was like the fifth search result.  So all in all this day feels pretty good in terms of blog popularity.

In my next search, I unearthed what looks like an abandoned Tumblr blog that had a promising beginning, witchjournal.tumblr.com.  It looked like another impressive attempt at a witchy journaling blog that went on hiatus after the first week.  That being said, there’s about a week’s worth of prompts, so I’m going to go at them.

One prompt that really caught my eye was this: When was the last time you played in the dirt?  Or tell us about a memorable time you felt connected to the Earth.  

Well, this one works for me particularly well today.  I live in a pretty damp, northern place right now, and spring is slowly coming in.  Today it was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, probably the hottest day we’ve had this year so far.  It was absolutely gorgeous, and I couldn’t bear the thought of keeping my teenagers inside for an hour and half in a hot basement room studying English.

So, instead, we went outside.  We brought our books and pencils and I made them read to each other by standing a few feet away from their partner and shouting.  When we read in class, it’s so easy for the kids to just give up on a hard word or to kind of whisper.  Making them read in a way they’re not used to can help them learn pronunciation or at least have a little fun.  Then I taught the grammar lesson while we were standing in a circle (past perfect tense today!) and then I told them to each grab a stick.  We went over to a dirt pathway not far from the school and I told them to write in the sand with the stick.  They wrote things like I had never been to Germany before 2014 and They hadn’t seen the Statue of Liberty until that day.   Again, just getting them to write in the dirt instead of on a piece of paper with their pencil was something that (I hope) helped my students to commit this piece of grammar to memory.  Associating something with a strange sensory experience can really help something stick in the mind.  Plus, I know that a lot of my students are kinesthetic learners, and writing with a stick is much more physically involved than writing in the classroom.

Now, all that being said, that’s the last time I played in the dirt.  But what does that mean for my path?  How does that connect me with the Earth?

Well, the interesting thing about this country is that, even though many of its traditions make it seem like a much more rural place than the United States, full of folk traditions and earthy substance, the people are kind of obsessed with cleaning the earth off of themselves.  Like, they don’t refrigerate their eggs (and they don’t power wash them like we do in the States, so you might get one with some crap on it, but you just clean it off before you eat it), but if you come into your home from outside, the first thing you do is change into house slippers, wash your hands and then change into home clothes.  They don’t like the dirtiness of the outdoors following them inside.

On the contrary, I usually think of Americans as being obsessed with cleanliness.  We like everything to be sterile, we disinfect our bathrooms and kitchen counters, we power wash our vegetables and use anti-microbial plastics in our schools.  But I’ve never had an American warn me against putting my backpack on the sidewalk because it’s dirty.  Americans don’t typically give you a pair of slippers the second you walk in the door and point to the bathroom, saying, “There’s the sink to wash your hands.”  And truthfully, despite the kind of strange feeling you get on your hands after they’ve gotten dusty or dirty, there’s something kind of nice in it.  I didn’t wash the dust off my hands after coming inside today; I just kept teaching.  The dirt doesn’t feel all that dirty.

I suppose that I could be a little more diligent with washing the earth off my hands.  I mean, definitely the ground is not so hygienic here (people don’t really pick up after their dogs, for example), but for some reason, there’s something kind of therapeutic about getting your hands dirty and just leaving them like that for awhile.  Life can be a little gritty sometimes, and trying to sterilize the crap out of it isn’t doing us any favors.  Sometimes we should just relish the Earth, whether it’s under our feet or under our fingernails.

 

Blessed be!

)O(