This is my first year celebrating Chalica. I'd heard about it in 2008 in its second year, and been "meaning to" "get around to" celebrating since. When I first heard of it, I was so excited that my faith now has a holiday we can call our own!
I know a lot of my lackluster commitment has been related to this crisis of faith through which I've been suffering for years. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to include anything about my faith here in this blog, because I don't want to push anyone away. I decided that I'd rather dip into this a little bit occasionally than try to ignore it altogether. My faith is so much a part of why I started down the path of urban homesteading that it feels wrong not to honor that place in the process. But that's a topic for another day. Today I want to celebrate, in all its imperfection, my first year celebrating Chalica.
I'd intended to ease myself into it. I put on some Celtic music, because it's the closest thing I have to religious, spiritual music that isn't Christian. I do also have some Christian music that I enjoy, but this felt like an occasion to be conscious of avoiding it. Maybe in future years, that can be incorporated as well. For now, I stuck with my Pagany earthy music. It was time to redecorate the sideboard in the dining room, so I made myself a Chalica altar there, with a mindfulness to do so in such a way that it would be true to my purposes and not offend the Catholics in the house. So, yeah, it's decorated for Christmas, in the secular, red-and-green-and-silver, doesn't-have-any-Jesus-or-Santa-on-it sort of way.
The seven-slot candelabra is front and center. I have a tray in front for such offerings as feels right, though I'm not sure what I'm supposed to offer to who. We're calling it the Santa Cookie plate for shits and giggles, and I put my flaming chalice necklace on it (not pictured). There's a woodsy-looking piece, to remind me to connect with the outdoors, and of the interconnected web of which we are a part. Same purpose for the wooden bowl at the opposite corner, which is also to collect little things that tend to end up on the bar--its practicality is a grounding agent as well. There's lanterns to light the way through this adventure, with snow flakes to remind me that some parts will be dark and cold, and stars to reach for and to remind me that sometimes life burns hot and bright. There's mirrors to remind me to reflect on the purpose of being here, of the choices we make, to encourage me to grow. There's a trio of garnet goblets to remind me to drink and be merry, and to illustrate the hope for a third little being in this partnership, and to honor the fact that everything has a place even when it doesn't "match" perfectly, to remind me that balance can be found without perfect symmetry. There's a bigger lantern with hearts to remind me to love and cherish everything I hold dear, to balance the roundness of the woodsy piece on the other end, again a reminder that matching and balance don't always go together, that equity doesn't always mean treating people the same. There's a couple of black and white paper ornaments from a friend's wedding, to honor the ballots cast in democracy, yet a reminder that not everything (and certainly not justice) is black and white (which these aren't, they're also glittery!). There's a snuffer to remind myself to be mindful of consequences and responsible in my choices, even when it's only in how I'm putting out candles. Through the glow and scent of candles, I seek peace.
To the casual observer, it just looks like a nice Christmas season decoration display. That's all it needs to be. These are reminders to me, ways for me to honor and be mindful of the things that are important right now.
Mr. Moon was in and out of the process doing other things, he thinks it looks nice. Not for the first time, he asked some questions about UUism and now about Chalica, but this time it felt a little more purposeful. Even if he's not considering joining me at church if I ever go, it's nice that he is taking an interest in something that has clearly shaped my life, my personality, and something that's important to me. Of course, in doing so he highlighted a few rusty bits of my religious upbringing, asking questions I'm sure I've discussed and answered before, but the history and the reasons are locked away in a file that's trusty from disuse. I pulled out my copy of Our Chosen Faith, widely regarded as a UU handbook, only to discover that not only does it not give a deeper explanation of the principles by which we form our lives, but it doesn't even list the seven principles in the book. Clearly, I need to go back and read this thing for the first time since eighth grade! But lately it seems like something I WANT to do rather than something I SHOULD do. And that's a big step in the right direction.
All I was going to do this week was light a few candles and think about my spiritual path a bit. And that's all I'm really going to do, because I don't want to put pressure on myself. Maybe next year I'll spend some time blogging about each of the seven principles on their respective days. For now, I'm simply grateful that I'm more interested in pursuing spiritual activities again, because it's something I feel my soul has needed for a long time, but I just couldn't find myself enough to even know where to start. This feels like it's the right way at the right time to get back to my roots and find the salve for the soul for which I've been searching.