Spirituality According to Athena

I have so many random, straggling voices inside me that are competing for the spotlight right now.  I’m not quite sure where to start.  Okay, the Nigerian man who I wrote about not too long ago… the one who was on the road (paved with dangerously sharp beliefs) to being a priest~ he was at Gaylord’s this morning with his elevenish year old son.  He introduced me to this big little person who looked both bored to bits, yet teeming with rich inner life.  The boy has lighter brown skin than his dad.  It is the color that is just the way I perfer my coffee, the immaculate ratio of milk to espresso.  Warm, rich, brown.  Milky enough to be decadent, but strong enough to have flay-vah!  Anyway, soon after the friendly introduction, they packed up their stuff (mostly dad’s gaggle of books) and said goodbye.  It MELTED my heart when the boy said to me, “You said your name’s Athena?”  An eleven year old is NOT obligated to remember this stuff or care!  So when he said that, my heart burst into an applauding peanut gallery of flaming tickle.  I asked him what his name was, since I hadn’t caught it the first time (I had my headphones on).  He said “I.K.”  I asked him if it was short for something.  He said yes.  I asked if I could know what that is.  Again, yes.  Then he spoke such a weighty, strong, African(?) name.  Please forgive me, but I have already forgotten… since it was a name I had never heard before.  I repeated it twice and looked in his eyes.  What a beautiful being he is.

I have a minor bone to pick on this topic of names.  WHY do most people act so helpless and ignorant when it comes to calling somebody by their real name, just because they have not heard it before???  So many people with regal, profound names end up going by “JJ” or “D”, just so that they don’t have to deal with the ignorance and laziness of the masses.  Names are important to me.  They are sacred vibrations that evoke Being.  Different is good!  It is unique.  But then I suppose there’s the layer of being a “minority”… which seems to be a source of shame for those among us with darker skin and names that take a few practice repetitions to pronounce.  What do I know?  I’m just your garden variety, lower middle class white girl.  What do I know about living in a white man’s world?  Some, but not as much as others…

Anyway, I bring this up, because I hope maybe you’ll become more aware of your laziness (I’m not talking to YOU of course… I’m sure you are wide awake and considerate…Mostly I am speaking to those other people…) and consider making the effort to pronounce someone’s real name, witness them in more of the fullness of who they are, and watch them become more vivid and fully alive!

Which brings me to the topic of being KNOWN.  That is one of the most profound gifts that another can offer me!   Yesterday Mykael and I threw our frugality out the window for the evening and went to eat at Boot and Shoe Service, the hella artisan pizza place on Grand Avenue.  This was only our third or fourth time there together.  We nestled next to each other on the bench seat at the front of the restaurant, facing in to the bustling ambiance that I consider top notch.  The mood unfolding from inside me was relaxed, satisfied, appreciative.  When life inside me is so easy, I consider this Grace, because so much of the time I seem to be engaged in hot, heavy battle with invisible forces within myself.  Praise it all!  I sat, blissfully smooshed between the wall and the man I choose to walk along through life with, nibbling big, buttery green olives, sipping a Sangiovese that I would not order again and generally enjoying the privilege of being out in the world on a waning Wednesday.  As we hungrily awaited our pizza, I thought, about how I’d have to be sure to ask for some olive oil when they brought us our steaming, doughy beast.  But I didn’t have a chance, because when the waiter delivered our eight slices of heaven, he also set a little white dish on the table and said, “I heard that you guys like olive oil with your pizza.”

I guess I’m pretty easy, but my heart burst with sticky sweet glee.  HOW ON EARTH DID THEY REMEMBER THAT?!?

At Taste of the Himilayas, they have our order memorized.  Yeah, the palak paneer is so good… and the garlic naan, so perfectly tender and savory… the chai so simple and decadent, why would we bother branching out?   And they know too that we love tamarind sauce, so sometimes, but just *sometimes*, when it’s an especially auspicious day, they bring us an extra large receptacle of the tart, sugary sauce!  Back at our old stomping ground, Fonda, too, they memorized our order and we got to sample the textures and stories of life as it unfolded through our waiters and waitresses.  To me, this is highly profound; creating relationships with the random spray of characters that God places along our otherwise mundane-assed paths.  Look another human in the eyes, give a sincere shit about what they have to say, where they have been and where they aspire to go, and life shifts gears from your basic olde 3D version to some profound, richer and more unabashedly loving dimension!  (infinityD?)

Generating kindness among what could otherwise be construed as a garden variety stranger is a sublime facet of being alive.  In fact, I’d even go so far as to call it, “spiritual”.  Since I have started blogging, I have also begun to explore the oceanic community of fellow bloggers.   I do searches on subjects that I, myself like to write about… just to see what other people are thinking, feeling, saying… “Spiritual” is one of my favorite searches.  I find that many voices are grappling with the question of what “spiritual” really means.  I appreciate this.  And as I read through the twist of musings, they all seem so bloody complicated.  Does it need to be so complicated?  I mean, don’t we all agree that life as we know it in this universe boils down to energy?  Pulsing, vibrating waves of energy?  This continuous invocation of OM singing us all into being?  How can this phenomenon be anything other than SPIRITUAL?  In my opinion, we needn’t divide the things of this world up into categories of “spiritual” and “not even close to spiritual”… Matter is dense, relatively slow vibration.  Condensed spirit.  Ask any scientist.  And while you’re at it, ask them if most of this world of matter in which we so staunchly believe isn’t mostly empty space.  Go on, ask ‘em… I bet they’ll give you a self satisfied, enigmatic smirk and say, “Yup, you bet your rigid britches!”

So if it’s all a big, saucy, spirit soup, then maybe the term “spiritual” is a word that can be used to convey aspects of ourselves and of life that testify to the soupy truth of who we are and what we are made of.  I like that.  And to me, connecting with other people, forging simple relationships founded on warmth and kindness, making the world a more connected and joyous place is a highly spiritual facet of existence.  In this existence soup, all life is interconnected and interdependent, so acting in ways that acknowledges and celebrates this truth is like WAY spiritual.

May you be blessed with the simplicity of sharing kindness among “strangers” today!


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