by Michael Ketterhagen
“The Lord is my light and my salvation;
of whom should I be afraid? …
One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
that I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord
and contemplate his temple.”
-Psalm 27:1, 4
This past Sunday, waves of fear entered my mind. I was worried about a myriad of tasks and responsibilities. My morning meditation experience was also disturbed by those worrisome and fearful thoughts. I didn’t know what to do, so decided that participating in the Catholic Eucharistic ritual with Mary might help.
My mind was still focused on the worries and concerns as I entered the church building, but the ritual practices that are part of the celebration of the Eucharist brought me back to my center, especially when I sang along with the above psalm. Psalms are a meditative part of the Catholic ritual. They bring a person to a receptive, open, and reflective place between some scripture readings.
I realized that I too had longed for the light and the salvation of peace in my life. I too wanted “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” But this house wasn’t a church building, nor a temple in India, nor some other external outside environment. No, I wanted to dwell in the light within “the temple” of my body, away from my concerns about my responsibilities and the world.
I began to understand that all rituals could bring me to that place of peace and stillness. I realized that sitting in stillness in meditation was sometimes not powerful enough to still that mind of mine. I needed to be more wholly and intentionally involved in the elements of hearing, singing, reflecting, and responding, which are part of rituals, in order to bring myself back to my true core self, the light within my temple. I needed to move my heart, as well, to a different level of activity. I needed to feel the energetic oneness of the community, the flow of the music and chants, and the love of the Divine Lord, manifested through the act of receiving the ritual food, the divine bread.
After reflecting on my experience last Sunday, I now know that ritual is very important in my spiritual development, my spiritual journey. However, I am also aware that it is not only the Catholic Eucharistic liturgy/ritual that can do that. I had experienced that same freedom and peace through the bhakti yoga practice of kirtan or my active participation in musical concerts or dancing to spirit-filled music, or during Vedic fire offerings. All of these in the past have brought me into the light of my bodily temple, the center of my heart, and away from the fears that sometimes enter my mind and life.
The Lord within me is my light and my salvation, of “whom or what” should I be afraid. I thank the Divine Mother for showing me this.
I pray to the divinity in you!