Three years ago, right after Memorial Day, I started this blog. And the way I started was with an announcement that I had booked a trip to New Zealand and then a streak of a 38 days where I posted a photo each day and wrote about it. It was a fun way to get into blogging practice and also have some time for observation and self-reflection. I’ve decided to give that streak another go.
And for this streak, I’m going to use a black velvet bag of ancestor cards that I picked up along the way in my spiritual travels. There are probably a number of different versions of these cards (like tarot cards, angel cards, etc), but these are simple. A bunch of cards each a word, a message from my ancestors. I will pick a card each day and reflect on its meaning for me at that moment.
Today’s card is DEVOTION.
Not an easy one to start with. Devotion = “feeling of strong love or loyalty.” Also “the use of time, money, energy, etc. for a particular purpose.” We are devoted to our loved ones – family members, partners, pets. We are devoted to our jobs. We are devoted to our causes – social justice, racial equality, peace, freedom for all.
My life has involved devotion on all these levels. Devotion in an outward direction. When young, I was devoted to my studies – always striving to be the top of the class, always looking to learn more and expand my knowledge.
I’ve always been devoted to my work, first as a teacher, then as a community educator and organizer. My life was my work and vice versa. I was devoted to the youth I worked with, the community that I was part of, the people that were in my life, dedicated to the same cause of empowerment of our people. This has changed since moving to the Bay Area. My work isn’t the center of my life anymore. I’m not devoted to my job in the same way I was in Boston. In some ways I miss that deep connection to my work. But in other ways, it’s been nice to have a break. My devotion has had time and space to be redirected elsewhere.
My devotion to my family has always run deep. Love, protection, esteem, respect, care for all these individuals who are tied to me by blood. As I get older, I realize how deep these ties are, and how important they are to me. And I love seeing the growth of the next generation, the little ones carrying on the family name, history, and collective memory, imprinted on their subconscious, to emerge in unexpected ways. I also am blessed that my life has brought an expanded family; new loved ones have entered my life and pushed me to accept and love those not tied by blood but by marriage.
I have learned to be devoted to myself – not an easy direction, inward. And not just devotion to self-improvement and growth but also devotion to cultivating my own happiness and contentment. Going inward to find wells of inner strength and peace. Going inward to find self-love and self-acceptance. As I get older, I find this is possible. Where I used to seek all this outside myself, often disappointed by what I found. I have been learning to find what I need inside which has allowed me to more fully appreciate and love what is outside.
Devotion has a sacred energy. Something of the unconditional, of wholeness, of complete dedication. How do we grow in our practice of being devoted to ourselves and others?