As life gets busier and busier, many of us see our spiritual lives suffer. I confess that I'm guilty, through little fault of my own... between working long days at a job that has begun to get out of hand, caring for an elderly parent, attending to civic duties as a member of a community task force, and rushing to complete the numerous little tasks of day-to-day life that continue to pile up as life becomes more and more complicated, I find myself struggling to carve out even small blocks of time to devote to nurturing my relationship with the spiritual world.
However, I've learned a few tricks along the way which have enabled me to hang on to my sanity and maintain my bonds with Les Lois (the Lwa) throughout the mad spinning rush of my life. If you've found yourself in the same situation, here are a few ways to honor and connect with our powerful spirit friends when time is short and your nerves even shorter:
- While driving to or from work or running errands, use that time to have a chat with your Met Tet, if you know who he or she is. If you don't know your Met Tet, Papa Legba is always a perfect Lwa to talk to while you're on the road. Talk about your hopes and fears or current problems, offer thanks for help you've received, or just ask for some help "clearing the road" so that you can reach your destination safely and on time. I keep a few CDs of Vodou music in my car, and each morning during my drive to work I greet my Met Tet and then play a few tracks for him from one of the CDs as we prepare for our day together.
- While we're on the subject of playing music during that morning or evening commute... do you enjoy singing along with the car stereo as you drive? There are many, many songs which could be considered appropriate to one or more of the Lwa... songs from every time period and genre. No matter what your taste in music may be, pay attention to the lyrics, tempo, and mood of the songs you listen to as you drive. If a song calls to mind a certain Lwa, why not sing or hum along and dedicate your performance to that spirit? Don't despair if your voice is dreadful; the Lwa don't care if your singing would embarrass a stray cat in heat -- they are just pleased you are thinking of them and honoring them!
- Offer up those household chores to the spirits. While mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or gardening, dedicate that work to the hard-working Azacca or the great forest spirit Gran Bwa. While planning a birthday party for your child, ask the fun-loving Papa Legba or the Divine Twins, the Marassa, to help you plan the fun -- and be sure to invite them to the party to share in the festivities! Simply ask Papa to open the gate so you can speak to the Lwa of your choice, then say a few words dedicating your efforts to him or her.
- Speaking of dedicating work to the spirits... why not offer your job duties as well? If you're a welder or are otherwise employed in some form of metalwork, that is the perfect kind of work to offer to Ogoun Ferraille. If you're a doctor or pharmacist, dedicate your healing efforts to Baron Samedi and Maman Brigitte, both powerful healers. If your career involves the more natural side of medicine, such as herbology and homeopathy, or you're a botanist or biologist, Simbi Makaya, Gran Bwa, and even Azacca would appreciate your work with the plant world they know so well. If you work in any form of communcations, our dear Papa Legba will surely be touched when you honor him by dedicating your work activities to him. If your particular form of employment doesn't call to mind any specific spirit, take a closer look at the various individual duties involved in your job -- even just replacing the water cooler can provide you with an opportunity to give a tip of the hat to a water-loving spirit such as Damballah or Simbi Dlo!
- As you're running errands, think about how what you're doing might relate to one of the Lwa. Take that opportunity to have a quiet chat with that spirit or even leave a simple offering. When I change the flowers on my father's grave, I always pause by a tree in the cemetery to leave a few pennies or pour some water on the ground for Baron Samedi and Maman Brigitte.
- Carry a small token appropriate to a Lwa that you feel especially close to, or of whose help you are especially in need... for example, and old key (for Papa Legba), a stone in the Lwa's favorite color, a small figurine or trinket which reminds you of that particular spirit. When you are engaged in an activity which requires minimal concentration (such as going for a jog, browsing through a store, or waiting for an appointment), handle the object and say a few quiet words to the spirit it represents.
- Keep a nice container -- a decorative jar, box, or even a nice velveteen gift bag -- somewhere in your home, and dedicate it to your Met Tet or favorite Lwa. In the course of your day-to-day activities, pay attention to little details around you, and when you come across something that reminds you of that spirit or what he/she means to you or has done for you, offer it to him/her and add it to the container. This could be any little token -- a fortune cookie fortune that is especially appropriate, a small picture cut from a brochure or magazine, a trinket you found in a store, received as a gift, or obtained as a free giveaway at an event. Whenever you feel a bit disconnected from your spirituality and need a little pick-me-up, take a few moments to look through these little offerings and have a quick talk with the Lwa to whom you've dedicated them.
As you learn more about Les Lois and develop a closer relationship with them, you'll discover more ways to honor them in your day-to-day life. You'll find that these simple actions can provide little oases of serenity in an increasingly hectic world. Just because you don't have time to hold a nice service very often doesn't mean you can't honor the spirits, welcome them into your life, and receive the blessings they bestow in return for your faithfulness.