The Momentum of Intention and the Healing Power of Ritual

P1110803Today I did something I’ve never done. It felt important to remember Dad in a special way on Fathers Day. In America that falls on Sunday, June 19th.

When the idea dawned to assemble mementos, the 19th was still two days away. As I went about the normal routine ideas floated to consciousness: Dad loved to play Texas Mean! I’ll find the game and set it up. What were his favorite foods? He liked hot stuff, chilies! And raisin pie, and, oh! Flowers!

I fell asleep anticipating Fathers Day morning but awakened at 2:04 a.m. Where was that photo of him that I brought back with me from the States? As I was scouring my brain trying to place it I fell asleep only to awaken again at 4:18. His purple heart and dog tags! Those must be displayed, and pictures of our family…I dropped back into sleep. At 6:00 a sunrise befitting the magnitude of the day summoned me. I scrambled out of bed for the camera and captured a stunning sky.

Still in pajamas, I set about looking for his photo. It wasn’t in any of the expected places, but in the process of the hunt I found others. Perfect! While unearthing the Texas Mean game from its place in the cupboard a collection of old calendars caught my eye. Inserted between March and April, 2015, was my handsome Dad on his wedding day. Beside it was the program from his funeral. Did I want that reminder? It took a few minutes to sort through how I felt. Then one line caught me eye: Died January 29, 2016. Yes, his death was a fact of his life.

As I assembled the keepsakes, a carved Buddha head on the wall just above the display felt off. The eyes, locked into an unwavering stare, didn’t fit. In my scarf drawer was a black loosely-woven shawl. I draped it over Buddha’s head so just the shadow of a face could be seen. That was the missing piece. It represented the veil of sadness and loss that today I’m allowing myself to feel. Then the tears came.

A time-out to shower and dress restored my composure. Barefoot, I walked outside, down the stairs, and into the garden breathing the moisture and aromas of breakfast being cooked. I sensed Dad’s presence with me. He loved gardens! Damp and cool underfoot, a slow amble around the perimeter produced yellow, purple, and hot pink blooms. I’d just added two green chilies to the mix when Ketut appeared.

“Ya, good morning. What are you doing?”

“I’m preparing a ceremony for my father.”

His face lit up. “One years, same as Hindu?”

“No, it’s six months since he died. But in America this is a special day for fathers.”

“I will bring offering,” he said. A few minutes later he returned with two palm leaf creations filled with the appropriate grains of rice, flowers, and mossy bits that appear everywhere on ceremonial days in Bali. I asked if it was okay to put raisins, the chilies, and a sweet biscuit on top. He assured me that this is how it should be.

All in readiness, I lit a candle and incense.

The raspy voice of Johnny Cash came to life on the computer: I Walk the Line. It was a song we loved to sing. While it played I made coffee, one for Dad, one for me, and we had our time together.

Underlying the sadness was intense joy filled with loving energy both his and mine. From the moment of intention, my subconscious mind had spun the story. When it was time to bring the idea to fruition, all the needed elements were there for creating an altar of memories.

Ritual is healing. I’ve heard that but I didn’t really understand. Now I get it. It can’t just be a concept. It has to be performed. I’m grateful that I took the time, made the effort, and followed the subtle promptings of my heart.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad, and all my love…always…


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Margaret Manning
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 07:18:55

    Sherry, what a beautiful way to celebrate your love for your Dad. I followed each step you described with intense connection and love. Knowing Bali and having been to your house, i could sense the textures and sounds and substance of the offering you made. He would have been very happy and immensely proud of you. xx



  2. stevecastley
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 07:41:22

    Beautiful Sherry; truly beautiful.



  3. Tracy McLachlan
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 09:45:10

    Thank you for posting your pictures. Wonderful.



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 21:59:13

      I only have a few with me here, Tracy, but they’re the ones that hold very precious memories. I’m finding that it isn’t important to me to have bookshelves loaded with albums recording every detail of the past! The present is where I am, and I choose to live in the now rather than dwelling too much in yesterday or tomorrow.



  4. rodneh9431
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 13:10:20

    Your wonderful words reach far.



  5. sageblessings
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 16:47:37

    Wonderful Sherry, thanks for sharing.



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 21:52:34

      I am grateful to friends who have responded to my emotional tempest of the past few days. I’ve felt wrapped in a bubble of energetic understanding if that makes sense! Thank you for always being there with a kind word!



  6. Jan Borchers
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 20:56:37

    What a heartfelt, honoring tribute. I loved the pics.



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 21:49:55

      When I got back from the trip to MN, life went into overdrive and I put things away with no thought to organization. So it was especially sweet to stumble across the pictures I’d brought with me in unlikely places. It was like unearthing little gifts, treasures in my day.



    Jul 28, 2016 @ 08:28:34

    I’m so happy to have discovered you, just now, on Sixty and Me! I’m crying reading this post and I have such a great appreciation of ritual though I’ve not really experienced it in the way you’ve described. I can’t wait to read more….thank you!



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jul 28, 2016 @ 08:51:24

      Thank you for this lovely message! The tribute to my dad on Fathers Day was incredibly important for me in so many ways. His funeral was non-stop socializing with family and friends I hadn’t seen for years. There was no time to be with my emotions. When I realized Fathers Day was approaching and I no longer had a living dad, the loss became real. It felt imperative to pay tribute to him in my own way. What transpired was far more creative and special than I could have imagined and I felt guided…by him? by Spirit? by my own love and memories? Who’s to say! All of the above! But the experience was beyond wonderful and made me realize how important ritual is, putting action to feelings, celebrating wholeheartedly special life events. And I also believe ritual can be a daily spiritual gift, like lighting incense and speaking my intention for that day. Thanks again for your affirming words!



  8. Sondra Jackson
    Aug 09, 2018 @ 01:19:24

    What a beautiful tribute. Both my parents are still alive, in good health but are in their late 70’s. As difficult my relationship is with them (my mom) I do cherish them and hate thinking of not being able to pick up the phone and call them. I know that day is coming but not today.

    Liked by 1 person


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