Today is December 19, 2009, and here in Roanoke, Virginia, we were blessed with a beautiful snowstorm. Sixteen inches! Lots of snow, by our standards.
Do you see the photograph? It is from our yard. It is a picture of Saint Francis, Patron Saint of Animals; he resides in our garden. Usually, come wintertime, he resides in our garage, protected from the elements. This year, we forgot to put him away, out of the weather.
Doesn’t he have the most beautiful, peaceful face? Isn’t it interesting that the snow did not cover it?
This does not surprise me. There are many events on record where sacred objects have gone unharmed, even in the most dangerous of circumstances. It brings me back to my days working as the office manager of a restoration construction company. We specialized in fire and water damage.
One Christmas season, we restored a home that had suffered a very serious fire; I remember the project manager showing me photographs of the home. They had a nativity scene displayed on a card table against a wall; the fire and smoke visibly went around the nativity – seriously, you looked at this photograph and could see the smoke go up and around the whole table. It was wild to look at; everything around it destroyed, burned; ruined. The nativity was untouched.
It boggled my mind at the time.
Now, I understand.
Today, as I notice our precious, uncovered Saint Francis miraculously peering out of the snow — inside, in the house, I have been busy — preparing photographs of the Kriya lineage for at least a week. Locating, procuring and printing photographs and pictures of the saints and sages who support me in my practice, so I can display them inside my small meditation space.
These saints and sages, they commune with me daily; in my meditation, my life and in my work. They are conduits for the living Divine energy that flows through me when I teach.
For some reason, it really never occurred to me to place their photos in my meditation space, even though I display their photographs prominently on a shelf in the living room.
Recently Andrea Boyd and Jeffrey Cohen of Jivamukti Yoga Charleston (SC) came to Roanoke to instruct some workshops. Mary Brown, Uttara’s Jivamukti instructor – a true conduit of the Divine, and a very dedicated student of yoga — took on the responsibility of preparing the altar for their workshop.
And oh, it was SO beautiful. See the photograph? Amazing!
Andrea and Jeffrey came and brought additional pictures of their teachers to adorn the altar. I lucked out (truly!) on a spot in the front row; and practiced for two hours before this sacred altar — adorned with fresh flowers, Ganesha (overcomer of obstacles) and photographs of the Jivamukti lineage.
As I pushed my body and mind through practices I thought not capable, I looked into the eyes of Ruth Lauer-Manenti. As I expanded my consciousness, under the expert guidance of Andrea and Jeffrey, Sharon Gannon and David Life peered from small, ornate frames. There was magic in those practices, and in those photographs.
When I have sat at the lotus feet of my beloved Guruji, there have always been photographs of Kriyanandaji and Shellyji on the altar. But only at this workshop did I realize the true power of those images. That is when I decided it was important to integrate them into my meditation space.
I sat before them today in meditation; and the energy shift was palpable.
Christians are careful not to worship graven images; and I understand that concept. We as Americans place the image of the flag everywhere; but not always with respect and understanding.
I saw an American flag doormat in a catalog this Summer – THINK about that symbolism.
Thoug — yes — no one wants to worship the golden idol, the ceramic goddess — UNDERSTAND that images, statues, photographs – they have “shakti” – a real energy; they have power.
During this beautiful period of waiting for the Christ-child; waiting for the Light to return; however you choose to honor the shifting of the season; remember that your photographs, your nativity scenes, your traditions and your totems; the ornaments on your tree; the photographs in your cards, the things that you elevate and honor; they have meaning; they have shakti; they have power.
Give them the respect they so lovingly deserve.