A Foreward for a Devotional Project…

ForestAs I said when I was talking about the faux-issue of Marvel’s upcoming female Thor and her villainous, un-loresque mammary glands (as well as the blatant hypocrisy behind that selective outrage), I’ve been feeling burnt out lately.  It wasn’t just the murder of innocents at the hands of some fascist, Heathen fraud.  It wasn’t in reflecting on the cases of child molestation that came up within the pan-Pagan community, and ruminating over that while trying to look at my own daughters and not be afraid for them.  It wasn’t in the process of assisting in running a fund raiser*, helping out in a local pan-Pagan group with their May Faire event, or addressing a lack of professional ethics in how one of my fellow Heathen writers  choose to addess criticism.  It isn’t even the weight of constantly being exposed to some of the hateful bile that comes from the fascist and racist rhetoric passed off as Heathen tradition, nor watching the pointless police brutality of Ferguson, Missouri.

It has been all of it; all of these issues coming at us consecutively, and often concurrently as well.  Truth be told I was almost giddy when an extremely vocal faction of Heathenism lost their minds over a comic book character, because it gave me a nice and easy issue to talk about that didn’t effect me at the core of my being.  I could just unwind and produce some dialogue that cut to the heart of the matter without effort; my heart and faith weren’t getting hurt in the process.  Compound that with some of the material I have written but not yet posted, which has been going through more revisions that I can count due to the weight of the topic being discussed, and I’ve been pretty damn spent.  Some real life dilemmas and/or projects** have also gotten in the way, and it has resulted in me feeling extremely exhausted.

So, I decided to start recharging my batteries with a “devotional meme” project that I will publishing on my blog in the coming weeks.

I am going to be engaging in something similar to those “30 Days of Devotion” things that are going around.  I’ve fleshed out some of the questions I intend to use, and I’ve also taken inspiration from some of the memes of other bloggers.  My plan, however, is not to start with a script of thirty days worth of questions.  Instead, I’m looking to have about twenty question (or so) related to devotional work, philosophy, worship, and spirituality…and the rest will be questions I answer from any readers and/or peers who care to post them.  If I get less than thirty, I’ll still have the chance to charge my batteries and restore my focus.  If I end up with more than thirty, I’m just help to contribute to the dialogue surrounding devotional practices.  Either way, it’s a net positive.  I’m looking to help myself expand my spiritual horizons and, at the same time, get some respite from all of the horrific, soul-sucking news that’s going on in the realm of current events.  I want to re-immerse myself in my spirituality, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my devotional work took a downward spiral while I was so focused on the headlines.

So in the comments below, post some of your favorite devotional/worship/spirituality based questions.  Ones that you have struggled with, ones that you think are at the core of spirituality itself, or things that you just want to see be talked about more.  If you think of some after I start, feel free to post them as well…in any of the posts with “The Days of Devotion” as a category, for ease of organization.  If you are a blogger yourself, perhaps you can answer your own question as well.  Better yet, I’ll be posting the initial schedule a day or two before I begin and it’ll be adjusted with any needed updates.  So if you want to repeat this entire meme later or even participate in it along side of me, you’ll be able to do so.  Devotional rumination for it’s own sake, on a community based level, can be a potent force…and if I (or we) can help recharge the batteries of others along the way, all the better.

This suggestion is not limited to Northern European/Heathen based Polytheism either; if the project sounds worthwhile to you, and you are a devotionally engaged, Polytheist of any sort, feel free to join in!  There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to remind yourself that the world is still a potentially beautiful place in spite of all of the despicable nonsense that occurs around us.  I’ve been focusing a lot on the former lately, and I feel that it is high time to take a moment for some of the later.

More details to come, so stay tuned!


*On that note, I was directly connected with the event but I was probably the one who was least involved in the day to day affairs of it.  Those accolades go more to Josh Gamble and James Calico.  I tried to put the word out, I tried to put some of the words together, and it was out collective project…but those two did a lot to help bring that event together and they deserve the lion’s share of the credit.
**For those of you thinking of flipping a house, let me give you some advice: don’t.

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About Robin Williams

220px-Robin_Williams_2011a_(2)I have never gotten the American obsession with celebrities, even though I was born and raised here.  Every once in a while someone passes where I at least understand why there is a strong fixation because he was someone who was trying to make the world a better place in some way.  Steve Irwin or George Harrison for example.  For the most part, however, I feel pretty confused when people grieve for the rich and famous.  I didn’t know them, I’m not going to pretend that my enjoyment of their work made me somehow closer to them, and that’s that.  I’ll feel an element of sadness for their friends and family, but that’s about it.

This was not the case with Robin Williams.  Not by a long shot.

He was to comedy what Nicola Tesla was for invention and inspiration.  What took me a decade or two to refine into a process where I can cleverly and humorously communicate my ideas was something he was born with.  It was a gift he pursued, seemingly every day of his life, for the entirety of his life.  He used that gift to bring joy and reprieve to others and, in the process, perhaps he was trying to find that joy for himself.  It seems he did not, and that’s why his death is more meaningful to me than it might otherwise have been.

In Robin Williams’ passing, my own mortality was reflected back at me.  I suspect that I am not alone in this.  When one of the most joyous, fun-loving, laughter-filled men that recorded history has ever borne witness to can be felled by his own depression, all of our lives seem all the more fragile.  I felt this all the more strongly because I understood, on some basic level, just exactly how it happened.  Humor has ever been my shield in times of difficulty, my sanctuary and safe harbor.  Seeing one of the greats take his own life and be failed by some of the same fortifications I myself have used is indescribable.  It’s an extremely sobering thing to witness, and it effected me in a way that took me a few days to sort through.

I saw a friend on Facebook ask why so many tears were being shed for an actor and comedian, but barely a though goes by for the various soldiers and military men who die out in the field every day.  Normally, I have a similar question in my head at the passing of a celebrity.  For me, at the very least, that’s now what has given rise to my own sadness.  I have been lucky in that my sadness has never been so deep, nor my shadows so dark, that I didn’t have an idea of how to overcome them.  Seeing a man like him pass in this way shows me what my life could have been.  Shows me what might have happened if things were different.

It also reminds me that one of the greatest comedians, a craft I myself attempt to practice in my own way, has just fallen.  It’s emotionally profound on a level that’s hard to articulate.

I don’t often ruminate on the dead.  At least on here.  I recognize those people who have passed on before me, related or not, and I attempt to pay them their respects.  For me, however, this is very much a silent recognition.  That’s a personal choice; I don’t feel that anyone who verbalizes there memorials is somehow “doing it wrong”.  I just feel that such recognitions are a private sort of thing, and I’ve felt no pressure or need to make it otherwise.  Maybe this is the start of breaking that trend.  Maybe this is just a moment where I need to grieve a little bit over the passing of a personal hero.  Maybe I just needed to express to the world that I understand.  I don’t know.  It was just in my heart and head, I felt I needed to say something.  So here it is.

In either case, I’d like to hail and salute the life and soul of Robin Williams.  From his work with Charities to his appearances in USO shows, he was a man who made his life’s work creating laughter.  From What Dreams May Come to Patch Adams, he helped people gain a touch of introspection.  It seems in death, he may even help some part of the world take a closer look at depression and suicide.  He was an inspiration to many, myself included, and he changed the world for the better.  I hail a man of brilliance, passion, and depth, whose life meant so much to so many.

May your soul find the destination it seeks, and you find the laughter you have certainly earned.