Thursday, February 9, 2012

They were singing my song, and I missed a beat

Today the ashram celebrated Noma. A fire was lit in the temple, the priest incanted and fluttered his fingers. The swami’s wife began playing the harmonium and singing a paeon to Ganesha, the elephant god made from his mother’s scurf who is revered as the Overcomer of Obstacles. And the devotees were invited to silently request help overcoming one of their own obstacles, cast a stick of incense into the fire—which is supposed to deliver the prayer to the gods—dribble some ghee into the flames, toss some rose petals into a basket nearby, bow down and exit. 

Wow! I thought. They’re playing my song. Ganesha is sort of my patron saint, the god whose hymn of praise I was assigned as a mantra a couple of years ago. I haven’t been very successful as a mantra chanter or as a meditator. Still, I thought, this is auspicious. So I got in line, received my stick of incense, was about to cast it into the fire along with my request to the gods—and I froze. Just as I can never think of a suitable wish before I blow out my birthday candles, so I could not think of a single specific obstacle I wanted help with. God knows I have my share of obstacles and a poor disposition for overcoming them. But asked to name one, I couldn’t. So, lamely, I asked for help overcoming ALL my obstacles. Alas, I’m sure that diluted any help I could possibly secure for any single one.

Good thing I’m an atheist!

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