Beginning Nature Awareness

With the seasonal changes of my life comes a renewed interest in my Dedicant Path… and the start of my nature awareness. I debated for a while about the spot I’d choose for regular nature meditations – after all, we do have a very nice park less than a mile away from my new home. In the end, though, I decided to keep it (perhaps a bit too) simple. I’ll be doing my nature studies in a corner of my new backyard. After all, it’s close enough to be less of a challenge to reach on my non-motivated days, and also close enough to keep near warmth when winter comes and challenges my lungs to a deathmatch (I don’t breathe well in cold.) It was also left abandoned for a few years, so it’s honestly a bit more wild than the average backyard. I spent an evening hour outside – and did I learn a lot!

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Guide to Hearthkeeping (or, my personal daily dance with Brigid)

So lately I’ve been getting nudges – I can’t tell if it’s Her putting me up to it, or just a general creative impulse – to write a sort of “hearthkeeping guide” about the kind of altered-for-me flametending I do. I came to online Brigidine circles relatively late in my relationship with Her, and had grown into my own private UPG of what She did and didn’t want from me. Then, when my wife and I were handfasted, part of our vows to each other were about our roles in the household – and mine was and is hearthkeeper, which is a work I dedicate to Brigid, and does involve keeping a flame, but with relatively few of the other traditions I typically read about in flametending circles.

So here it is, in all it’s somewhat-scattered detail… how I “tend flame” by keeping my hearth.

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Seeing the Forest – also known as Purpose-Searching

So if anyone’s paying attention, they’ve probably noticed that I don’t actually end up posting here too much. I’m certainly nowhere near my original goal of completing the ADF Dedicant Path in a year. Sometimes, the fact that I’m “behind” gets so daunting that it keeps me from working with my faith at all – much less finishing up assignments for the DP. And that’s really not good: not good for me, not good for the deithe, not good for anything.

So.

I’m toying with the idea of genuinely making the blog more broad in topic – that is, rather than this being a very focused Dedicant Path blog, or even a rather focused “working faith” blog, instead writing about my experiences and thoughts with the journey of belief in general. I certainly spend enough time thinking about my faith, and talking about religion with my friends and loved ones. And I’ve been feeling more and more lately like I need to focus less on the work I do and more on what the work does for me.

Thus –

A new kind of blog post. Please tell me what you think, if you’re reading this.

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Planning and Feeling Alive

I don’t know about anyone else, but I often feel like my days off are wasted – that I’m honestly more stressed on my “weekend” (currently Sun-Mon) than I am during my work week. Thankfully, today was not one of those instances, and it’s in large part due to no effort or ideas of my own.

While I was still enjoying the freedom to layabout in bed this morning, one of my best friends called and said that she’d been sent home early from work. Would I like to hang out? Of course! I had no other plans for the day other than a vague guilty feeling that I should “do something” – spending time with a friend counted as something, right? I convinced myself that it did. After all, this particular friend had recently been having an extremely hard time of life, and needed help. By being there for her, even if by simply drinking coffee and chatting about inconsequential things, I would be Doing Something Good.

Turns out, the day was much more awesome than I could have planned.

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My Path, and the Turnings Thereof

When I started this blog, I’d always intended to keep the sides of my spirituality in balance here. I’d been encouraged to start it in order to keep a record of my progress on the Dedicant Path, to be sure, but I am certainly more than a Pagan. I’m a writer, I’m a hearthkeeper, I am in some tangled and still-difficult-to-define-way a Christian, and I am a Unitarian Universalist. As I state in my “About” page, I had actually come to this site with the idea of writing fairly equally about my journey with ADF as my journey in church work.

I soon discovered the problems with this plan – as vital as my work with my Unitarian Universalist church is to my life, much of it is either 1) boring to those not a part of the community, or 2) confidential in a way that doesn’t allow sharing on a forum several church members visit. (The quasi-political struggles of church committees fall, oddly enough, in both of these categories.) I’ve also been rather busier with non-blogging things than expected, as I explain in my last post.

In the past week, though, I’ve been struggling once more with the feeling that I need to be doing something more meaningful with my life. Some of that is returning to this blog and the Dedicant Path. A more significant part, however, is my decision to start the application process for theological school. I’ve intended for over a year and a half to start my formal education for ministry “someday,” and my wife and I had tentatively agreed upon that day being a few years in the future. Revisiting the idea, however, I came to the conclusion that I would rather sacrifice the ideal school situation in order to begin school sooner. So, I’m reviewing the application process at my schools of choice, and beginning ever so slowly to type out pages not for a novel, not for the DP, but for academic resumes and personal essays. Wish me luck!

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Running Late, and a Belated Samhain Write-Up (Week Four Homework)

As always, as ever, I fall behind. I gained a full-time job on November 4th, and I have been struggling to adjust to the difference in my available time. If that wasn’t enough, I also attempted (and did not complete, sadly) to try NaNoWriMo for the first time in the same month. Then, I’m a bit of a Christmas nut, so December went by in a flurry of paper and real snowflakes, the home cookie factory, and carols. I’ll be doing quite a bit of DP catch-up in the near future, suffice to say.

For tonight, a much belated-essay for Week Four follows.

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My Samhain (Dedicant Path: “Week Three” Homework)

For the Celts, one of the most commonly told myths at this time of year is the story of how the Dagda and the Morrigan met by the river before battle at Mag Tured. It’s an interesting myth, dealing with issues like violence and death, how life fits into death, the roles of female and male deity in battle, and the negotiations that take place among the gods. It fits well in this holiday, but it hasn’t been a focus of my practice in the past.

For me, Samhain is a time to accept my mortality, to appreciate the ephemeral nature of all things. I can’t quite say that I look forward to it, as this time of year is difficult for me on a personal level, but I do appreciate it much more after years of celebrating this holiday. It’s an impossible holiday to miss: the local Pagan community gets all astir in its preparations for an annual Witch’s Ball, and debate about the best possible costume flies for months beforehand.

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