I have been thinking of posting this blog for a couple of weeks, ever since Thanksgiving, because it bothers me a lot that in the spiritual/religious worlds many of us can not currently do what we have traditionally done to exchange loving energy. Touching each other, eating together have become things that are not safe in our covid world. Many Christian religious services end with a handshake, which is a tradition that I have always loved. A formal Wiccan rite often begins with what is called the Circle Kiss. The Priest and Priestess go around the Circle and give a kiss of welcome to each attendee. It is a way to welcome them and their energy to the service. Not going to happen these days! And passing a pipe during a Pipe Ceremony is simply not safe. The list is very long.
Two things that are vanishing from our modern world are the acts of Laying on of Hands and Breaking Bread together. Most people are familiar with the act of Laying on of Hands as a part of healing energy. However, it takes place in many other ways as well. If you have ever seen a new religious leader be ordained in any of the religious traditions, there is usually a power charged moment when the ordained ministers/priests/priestesses lay their hands on the new candidate. It is an energy transfer. Graduations have the same energy transfer. When the candidate comes to the stage to receive their diploma they shake hands with an officiate. If it is a graduate degree being handed out, then the new candidate is “hooded” by one of the officiates. Again, an energy transfer has taken place with the Laying on of Hands”.
As for Breaking Bread together, the importance of that custom has been studied in several academic fields, led by anthropology. Who you will share your table, your food with is much more important than you usually think about. Almost all religious traditions have celebrations that include the sharing of food. As you break bread together you also share and extend the religious/spiritual experience that you also just shared. Thanksgiving in the US this year was especially poignant because it forced us to make decisions about with whom we would “break bread.”
I have seen so many of these beautiful traditions go by the wayside in the past months. I have wondered how many would return, if they would ever return. These ponderings have made me so sad. Recently I had a conversation with my brother. He is a leader in the Christian religious world. He had some insights to my sad ponderings that lifted my spirits. He told me that instead of handshakes, many congregations are turning around and waving at each other. Not quite the same, but an effective way to share energy. One would assume that loneliness, especially amongst the elderly, would be on the rise. One study has shown that not to be the case. Current restrictions are forcing folks to take more assertive action to stay in touch with other people. Virtual it may be, but folks are connecting with each other, and doing it gratefully rather than with that grudging attitude of “we have to do it.” Now we’re grateful that we can in any fashion. Not quite the same as a hug, but still effective.
The Yuletide Season is normally full of events that call people to gather together, Lay Hands on each other and Break Bread together. Not this year. So, if you can do so, even in a limited way, be grateful. Isn’t gratitude supposed to be the essence of Thanksgiving? Isn’t that where the Yuletide Season starts?