Category Archives: Shrines

2 Flags, 3 Shrines, 4 Mice and a Word About Sin

The last two weeks have been extremely busy. I even skipped my morning workout several days in a row in order to give my inventory a much-needed boost. I have also forced myself to learn to respectfully decline every new demand that would lead me to sin.

This tiny, yet hugely powerful world takes on precise significance the older I get. Since I love etymology, I will pause here briefly to observe how incredibly suitable it is that spiritual masters would invite us to avoid sin at all cost. Indeed, our general understanding of the word “sin” does not begin to scratch the surface. It means far more than the images that first come to mind. To sin means, “To stray from the target.” It is an archery term.

Perhaps it would be easier for us to learn to focus on the target, rather than to aspire to avoid sin. With only one target in sight, the rest takes care of itself. With only one target in sight, there is no doubt about the course to take and whether the course is good or bad, or sinful. If we choose to do good, then good it is in a layers of life, and most of all in becoming the very best expression of what it is to be human. The cost of not doing this is high indeed.

The masters might as well have said, “Do your best,” but such common sense words clearly do not have the same striking impact as “Do not sin.” The masters knew they needed to use wording that would somehow endure through the ages. It was meant as a loving warning; we sometimes take it as a dare, and resist. Our loss.

As you can see, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder these things lately while I spend hour upon hour doing my best to give shape to my creative ideas. Doing this is inevitable, after all. There is one powerful lesson I am learning over and over as I continue on this course. That lesson blows my mind every time I put it into practice. In fact, I believe it is the key to peace of mind: Live without unfinished business. 

This means: No procrastination. But more than this, it must shape every moment. I have come to understand that every single time I feel impatient or uncertain or unable to focus, I must ask this question: What is unfinished? What was left undone? Then, the only logical response is to always act in a manner that resolves the question, one little mundane or creative task at a time. The progress I have made by applying this simple personal rule is astonishing. Target in sight. Target in sight. Target in sight.

I love that the fruit of my labor and efforts took me on the road for a second trip to Grand Isle Art Works, yesterday, to deliver new creations. Driving is one of my guilty pleasures, and a perfect reward to conclude new steps forward and pause before continuing the journey.

The shrine is a prototype; a starting point. I had postponed making this because I worried it would not be perfect, yet it is in making these first three that I was able to see what else it could become. So these are perfect after all.

The flags were a wonderful nudge to explore new ideas. They were provided by Grand Isle Art Works with an invitation to design according to whim. They will be displayed through the summer as part of their Sweet Harmony by the Lake Art Show, beginning July 10th. The guidelines were simple and fun. Each color has a theme. Mine were red for fire and green for water. The mice are a recent creation and a must-have addition to the Grand Isle collection. I think there are more critters about to come out of my mind in the days to come.

Gotta get back to work.

Personal Shrines

The power of the shrine, or at the very least its significance, reaches across cultures and beliefs.

Indeed, even individuals who do not adhere to any form of spiritual practice, and who firmly believe they are atheists, will readily admit to a sense of awe and mystery in the presence of a shrine. Many who explore such devices (for lack of a better term) are drawn to them, and moved by them, in spite of their lack of a specific religious practice.

shrine 8

Some theorize that our attraction to religious icons and shrines is deeply rooted in ancestral memory that permeates every cell of our bodies. Others yet simply point to our innate curiosity toward the human spirit, and the spirit at large, as the source of our interest in shrines and places of worship.

In the presence of a shrine, it is nearly impossible to remain silent within. Universal questions arise, as if they had been dormant for centuries. These are questions without answers. They return us to a depth of being that momentarily makes all worries and challenges fade away. We float. We recognize that there is more to the world than we can understand. Instead of being overwhelming and frustrating, this suddenly appears beautiful; bountiful.

A personal shrine is designed from the heart. It often reflects a person’s highest values and aspirations. It creates a personal spiritual space, even for those who feel they have no religion. It holds a place of honor; one that brings its owner back to a higher personal truth the moment it catches the eye. It can also be a place of honor to remember loved ones.

I made this shrine years ago for Roderick, my husband. It was my first design. It stands about 11 inches high and is made of cardboard covered with stylish scrapbook paper. I offered it to him on his birthday. The scroll I placed in the bottom contains a poem about inner strength. Inside, I built an easel. This is a place of honor for a meaningful object that represented a specific life dream for Roderick. The easel could hold a photograph also. The point is that the contents are always furnished with visual cues of great significance.

The space above the door is the resting place for a small gem, nestled in fabric. One practice consists in whispering a wish in the gem, one that focuses on all good things for the owner of the shrine. He or she need not know the wish; only that it is there, as a lingering token of kindness. The symbolism does all the work.

This, then, will be the inspiration for things to come at my workbench. Shrines can be personal, or represent themes. For instance: nature, world peace, art, time, playfulness… Some will be tall while others will be long. Some may have doors and others drawers. Some may include figurines and objects. I’ll see what takes shape as inspiration flows.