Sacramental Mornings 
By Loba



“...ones that bind together the many rhythms that affect us through techniques — rituals — that attempt to synchronize the three dances — the personal, the cultural, and the cosmic. The reward is a new dimension of rhythm and time: the sacred.”
— Mickey Hart

It’s the holiday season, the season of gathering and sharing, and also sweet moments of solitary nourishment and comtemplation. By now the mornings are getting crisp in this river canyon. I rise softly so as not to disturb, as it pains me to tear myself from the warmth and spell of sweet slow breath. Dressed in layers of velvet and wool I rise into the chill darkness, which is this morning not so dark — the wild canyon lit up by a waning moon above!

I stand outside taking in all the beauty of the moment, breathing in the cold. A magically glowing mist moves through the mountain trees as the river shimmers below. I hear an owl, then only the wind, in that timeless eternity before the canyon birds awaken.

I walk the path to our little kitchen, a place filled with things feminine, old, handmade, grandmotherly. I empty the ashes from the night before, start my fire in the century old cookstove... and in this way, each and every morning start my life anew. With the door to the firebox open I bring my face close to the first flames, and always this miracle calls me to prayer:

“Thank you, fire, for your warmth and your beauty.
Thank you trees, for your once living bodies.
Thank you Spirit, for giving us life, and death, and warmth.
Thank you for the blessing of another day.”

Mornings are not simply the launching of our daily schedule or the rote return to work. They are a not-to-be-ignored opportunity for us to claim sacred space, and enter each day focused and refreshed. By affording ourselves a chance to embrace the early quiet with prayer and gratitude we further open to the blessings, lessons, and possibilities that are available to us.

It is important we give ourselves the time necessary to feel who we are at the core, our un-met needs and evolving potentials, without the urgent demands of others pulling us from our center.

And just as crucially, we need this time to take in the nourishment of Spirit and of the natural world, Gaia, our most direct source of inspiration, information and energy! Invested fully in this ritual of presence, beingness and connection, everything we do that follows is more intentional, heartful and grounded in the Source.

Although I am naturally a “morning person”, it’s still always a challenge for me to make what is essentially a leap of faith out of the bed and into the dark chill of “la madrugada” — the early morning hours. But there are days, even weeks when I just can’t bring myself to do it. As much as I love the morning, my sleep is precious to me, and my sweetie nearly always makes some adorable sound or gesture communicating how much it would mean if I stayed just a little longer. Most often I lie awake and still for awhile trying to feel out how sleepy I actually am, and the odds of it going away once I get out into the air!

It can be a feat to get out of bed before we “need” to, if there’s no one pressing us to be somewhere at a certain time. It helps to have a strong will and go to bed with a preset intent... along with the faith that we have the ability to draw up Earth energy from deep inside Her, deep into our beings.

Every additional day that I’m able to rise early, seems to help me get on an “energetic roll”, completing non-urgent but important tasks that otherwise might be neglected. Rising to the challenge of the morning, everything seems suddenly possible, every moment that follows charged with significance and infused with bliss.

The sacramental morning is our chance to treat ourselves as holy/wholly beings, getting out of bed slowly and sensuously, feeling the sheets slide off of our bodies as attention, the first splash of water on our faces as anointment, the selection of our clothes as preparation for our splendorous coming out. By keeping the thermostat down, we can better enjoy the feel of a shawl on our shoulder or a dog at our feet.

Rather than bombarding our senses with radio, TV or bright electric lights, we might light a candle as we pour our bath, set nothing into motion except perhaps a pot of coffee or the rubbing and purring of a cat. We greet ourselves with love when we first see our candlelit images in the mirror. We savor the subtle music of lovers or children breathing in their sleep, the breeze in the trees in our yard and the preciousness of the silence between.  

It is not that different here in the sacred Canyon, as wild and far from a road or town as it is. My favorite days begin with a walk outdoors in the brisk can-yon winds, followed by a comforting fire and steaming tea with organic honey. I make sure my belly is empty and truly hungering before I mindfully eat.

I bask in the glow of an antique kerosene lantern even though I have solar-powered electric lights. I like choosing the right-sized pieces of wood with touch alone, moving gracefully and deliberately in the semidarkness of my home.

I have my own songs of gratitude and self-appreciation that I sing especially in the mornings. Sometimes I go to Kiva’s Medicine Lodge to stretch and dance in its unobstructed circular space, or out onto the big porch beneath the stars, letting the canyon sing me awake. While others in their own houses are likely getting in their showers, I will often run down to the river for an icy plunge before reheating myself with the fresh ginger tea left simmering on the stovetop.

I love to take time to dress beautifully, to braid my hair, to wash with heated rain water perfumed with essential oils like rosewood or lavender. I feel like an ancient hearth goddess as I move through my morning rituals of tending, of singing to the water and the wood, and praising the vegetables I may roast or turn into a stew.

The cool of morning is the perfect time to bake yams and squashes or start pots of rice and lentils, and special breakfast treats for when I sit cross legged on the floor to eat.
In the midst of our relentless busyness this world is nonetheless continually making offerings to us. All we have to do is wake up to them, rise to them, embrace them, walk with them. Wherever we live, by taking an early walk we are more likely to notice the songs of the birds that had been singing just outside our window unheard.

The weather will be something real that envelopes, affects and stimulates us instead of something we just hear about on the screen. With our blood flowing strong, we can switch from strict-ly pleasant meandering to a purpose and direction, planning and following through on what most needs to be accomplished. When we practice stretching our bodies first thing, it can help us to expand beyond our usual range of motion, and not just physically. Dressing in ways that we personally find beautiful inspires us to move with grace and confidence.

The conscious deliberateness of our morning rituals can result in making our every subsequent gesture more powerful and less frivolous. The more we practice being truly present with the gifts each morning offers, the more responsive and alive we will feel each day.

It’s funny, when the light returns it can sometimes feel too soon. It’s bittersweet knowing that the stillness, the sacred quiet must be broken again and again. But it’s always with us, this magic, an accessible state that we can claim for ourselves in a hushed corner of the office or house, in a spot under a potted tree turned through our intention and attention into sacred space.

Besides, somewhere on Her beautiful body the Earth is still robed in darkness. At all times, there is a place where dawn is breaking! At every moment we are her children, at once held in her close embrace.... and thrust out of her womb, to be reborn again.

May we wake to our beauty, to the beauty of the Earth, and celebrate! May we wake up to our power, our passion, our unique abilities! May we wake up to our challenges, and know we have what it takes to make the hard choices and crucial changes! With each new dawn, creation shines like a reflection of our hidden potentials. The rising sun seems to say: “Depend on a miracle. Be that miracle! Shine today!”
Loba and her partners tend an enchanted wilderness sanctuary and ancient place of power in the Southwest’s fabled Gila Mountains, hosting retreats, quests, sweats, wildfoods weekends, resident internships and the annual Wild Women’s Gathering. Contact the Sweet Medicine Women’s Center & Earthen Spirituality Project, Box 820, Reserve, NM 87830.

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