Several years ago a friend asked me what kind of ritual she could do to invite a deeper relationship with the Divine into her life.
I was completely stumped.
Ritual is an extremely useful practice and fairly simple: you create intentional space, state your need, do what you can to do to meet that need, and return to ordinary time and space. My friend needed more intimacy with the Divine only I couldn’t think of something To Do that would allow that.
It took several months of pondering the question “What can you do to symbolize that you’re willing to have a deeper relationship?”
Finally I realized I was focusing on the wrong part of the sentence. It wasn’t about what she needed to Do, it was about what she was willing to be open to.
When we’re open to someone being in our lives more deeply we make space for them. You need room for intimacy.
My friend needed a way to show that she was willing to make room for the Divine in her life. I suggested she build an altar, a space set aside with the intention of meeting God half way. Literally making space for their connection.
My friend’s little altar became a reminder of her willingness to let the Divine in. Looking at it, lighting the candle there, allowed her to see the big picture and recognize the places where the Divine was already present. It made her more conscious of places where she could invite the Divine in.
If a deeper relationship with the Divine is something you long for, find a small space in your home (and in your heart) and create an altar for Inviting the Divine in.
What You’ll Need:
A clear space that won’t be used for anything else and won’t get cluttered. (A space as small as one foot square or a window sill even will work.)
A pretty cloth or doily to define the space (unless you’re using the window sill)
A candle in a fire safe holder
What You’ll Do:
Clear your space.
Light your candle. In this way you’re creating sacred space.
In your heart (or out loud) declare your intention: the desire to have a more intimate relationship with the Divine. Be clear that you’re willing and open to this closer relationship showing up in whatever way it does.
Dwell in this space for a while, feeling the feelings of desire as deeply as you can. When you feel ready, extinguish the flame.
Once you’ve done this for the first time you can light the candle anytime. Leave it burning while you’re nearby (always following proper fire safety procedures and remembering to extinguish it when you go out.) This will add energy to your intention.
Make an offering (aka wooing the Divine) – everyone loves to get flowers. It makes them feel appreciated. Leave flowers on your altar, a bouquet, a single red rose, wild flowers or even just a single marigold plucked from the garden.
Experiment with other offerings: other cultures make offerings of rice or brightly colored fruit. There’s a Celtic tradition of using three hairs from your head when you’re in a pinch and have nothing else to offer but a piece of themselves. The focus is always on what’s of value to the culture and as such I’ve used coffee on my nature retreats (Hey! Our culture values it!!) and coffee beans on my home altars, which has the added benefit of smelling good.
Adding to your altar – you may feel called to add things to your altar. Go for it! Follow those prompts whether they make sense or not.
Choose consciously: put things on your altar that answer the question “What qualities do I want my relationship with the Divine to have?” Do you want it grounded? Then perhaps a stone or a rock. Is your deepest wish to be a vessel? Then a pretty ceramic vase.
Letting your subconscious tell you: Take the hint; add the weird object that doesn’t make sense. It’s a message for you. From the Divine, from your subconscious – doesn’t matter. What matters is discerning the meaning and accepting the lesson.
Pay attention to the places where the Divine Shows up: It’s a two-way street. Like any relationship there’s a give and take built into the ritual of creating (and keeping) an altar to invite in the Divine. You can dictate only so much. There comes a point where you have to receive, too. Staying actively engaged with the give and take is the responsibility you take on when you begin this ritual.
So, make your offerings – see how it feels to offer yourself on the altar of the Divine. Ponder the meaning of the messages that come from the items you’ve added to your altar and act on them.
You’ve made room for the intimacy that you long for. Pay attention and do the work for it. Allow it to come into your life. And enjoy it – intimacy is a beautiful thing!
~Deborah Globus, LaPadre