This one is to the left of my computer. That’s me in the picture, age five, full of wonder, imagination, and joy, with my Dressy Bessy doll, pigtails, rainbow striped overall knee pants, and bare feet. In so many ways, this is who I am still.
This shrine is the “real” one, lit with candles when in use, where I have my meditation cushion set up and keep my mala, my sacred texts, a Buddha who wears a protector string given to me by my teacher, and a crystal which represents the awakened mind, witness to my monkey mind. There are two shelves below where I keep, among other things, an urn with Obi and Dexter’s ashes, a singing bowl, and a Saraswati — the Hindu Goddess of all arts, the goddess of learning, knowledge and wisdom, the perfect manifestation of a teacher. Sometimes called Goddess of the Word, her name means “the one who gives the essence of one’s own self.”
Even in my office at CSU, I have a tiny shrine at my computer, representing my aspiration to make that work a meaningful experience and offering, something that might ease suffering, or at the very least do no harm.
And finally, one more, just to the left of my screen at the same desk. I don’t know if you can see it very well, but this one has one of my favorite things, an origami crane made out of a gum wrapper that I found one day in my empty classroom.
“Love’s greatest gift is its ability to make everything it touches sacred,” (Barbara de Angelis). For me, sacred can be a bookstore or library, the beach on the Central Oregon Coast, my backyard, the way Sam will roll over on his back offering me his belly, the way Eric lights up when he makes me laugh, the sound of our footsteps on the trail, the sound of their breath sleeping next to me in the quiet dark, the way a tree reaches out and up, the sound of bees, the mad joy of flowers, the vanilla smell of the warm bark of a certain Pine tree, the taste of a ripe peach. Each tiny shrine grounds me in the vast, open space, the big love of this time, this place, the sacredness of an ordinary moment.