The Altar of Your Life



What rests upon the altar of your life? What are you making sacred with your presence?

Each morning I light a candle and I pray. I fill the kettle and meditate while the water heats. After time on the bench, I prepare hot water and lemon for my first drink of the day.

Someone gifted me with a cup last year. It is simple. Elegant. White on the inside, black outside. No handle. It is meant to be cradled. Inside the rim is written “Rituals…”. The name of a shop in Holland, this bit of advertising reminds me that yes, my life is an altar. Each morning, I squeeze half a lemon into the cup. The wooden juicer fits just so into my palm, the other hand cups the bright half round as the juice spills into the bottom of the white interior. I can be present with the lemon, the juicer, and the cup. I can be present as I lift the kettle and hot water pours out, diffusing the juice.

All of these actions are as simple as the cup. Ordinary. All of these actions become sacred by the fact that I am present and paying attention. My mind isn’t wandering in its list of things to do. I’m not wanting to do anything except be with water, lemon, and cup.

What rests upon the altar of your life? What are you making sacred with your presence?

We can infuse any activity with the scent of the sacred. How does our body touch the chair, how are hands and arms connected to our shoulders? We are present with our bodies as we type - trying to communicate across great distances. What happens when we pass a tree? Do we drink it in with our eyes? Do we say hello to the sparrows? We are present as we walk to work, or lunch, or home.

There is no place that is not holy ground. When we are present – oriented to East and West, North and South, oriented in and out – we find the sacred waiting, everywhere.

What practices connect you? 


10 Responses to “The Altar of Your Life”

  1. Syrbal/Labrys

    I’ve built and maintained many altars over the last 25 years or so. And now and then it occurs to me to wonder if one is neglected. But finally, I realized that I shift altars with the flow of my life; this year my ‘altars’ are outdoors. I have these tippy towers of flower pots and recycled teapots mounted on re-bar threaded thru holes in the bottom. And there are blooming plants in each container. They “tip” and sometimes even move if bumped, they look precarious and off-balance. They need water almost daily—attentiveness is required. But they bloom and grow where they are planted, no matter how tipped and precarious.

  2. kate richards

    Your post reminds me of the first time I discovered being ‘in the now.’ It was a strange feeling, being 100 percent present in the moment, not thinking of past or future… I believe in taking delight in the small things. A pair of ducks who visit our little pond every day in our mountain place. A heron was there the other day. That pond is more an altar to me than any I have ever created. A testament to life with water and earth, the sky above and the trees hanging over. The birds who stop by, the grasses around. To me that is magic, altar and renewal of spirit all in one.

    • Thorn

      How wonderful that you have such a spot and that you are present to cherish it. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Madelon

    My dog walks are sacred. Every day twice a day, no matter how foul the weather. The only time in 9 years I have not followed this pattern have been when I am simply too sick to leave the house. Some people think two walks a day and a critter to care for is burdensome. I find my dear dog to be a great blessing and I appreciate how we go to the park every day and see how the seasons unfold.

    • Thorn

      I often see people walking with their dogs and think it must be a great way to connect with body and community environment.

    • Tina

      All the time I spend taking care of my animals is sacred to me. Animals and plants; to me it is to care for them that I am here (with a secondary job of being creative.) My dogs and horses in particular connect me to spirit. I also try to make time spent cleaning a sacred process. I sweep towards the fireplace, I picture the love magic i am making by keeping my home clean and preparing food for those of us who live here. If it has to be done, it might as well be done with purpose. 🙂

      • Thorn

        “If it has to be done, it might as well be done with purpose.” I really like this! May I quote you on this?

  4. Karen

    I saw my first baby sand hill crane today. I see the adults a lot but not the young before today. They were endangered and have made a comeback. I find myself longing to fly with them when they call out circling over head.
    My altars are everywhere and nowhere. I have a few i tend but most tend to me when I come upon them. I like that relationship. Life is sacred and I am not meaning it in any smarmy way, it is the real deal.


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