Saturday last I felt the presence of Odin in a profound hour-long spiritual experience. The day after I’m just someone who needs clean clothes and a shower before I catch an already hot and humid 40 minute bus ride to my day long class. And then at the end, come home. With homework to be done.
The difference is distinct: my faith and spirituality is present wherever I am, but some days it’s right at the forefront of my focus, and other times I choose to focus on practicalities, such as food shopping, maintaining a home and going to work. Saturday was a full day of heathenry: a multi-day event that I could only get to one day of: I got to wear my mjolnir without having to be mindful of the reactions of who might see it, got to talk shop with other heathens without having to explain each term or name, had theological discussions on a level that I can’t ordinarily have with the non-heathen people I meet in person. Shared news and caught up with friends, played a very silly game of chess, talked about building a nuclear powered sproinger to revolutionise fuel consumption for commercial aeroplanes (don’t ask), prayed at the Ve giving praise to each dedicated altarspace in turn, and attended a Lammas blot giving thanks to the earth and the gods, especially Thor and Sif. I ended the day by being part of a three person group chanting names of Odin for an hour over the new 7 foot Godpost as part of the preparations before the ceremony of installation later in the evening.
I mean, as days dedicated to faith practice go, it was an absolute cracker.
But the day after. That started with a much needed shower to get the tired smell of smoke out of my hair. And clean clothes, and checking that I’ve done all the prep work for the material that we’re going to cover in class. And getting the bus on time. It’s far removed, and not just literally, from where I was but one day before.
So: how do we balance? How do we decide how much time, or which days we dedicate to our faith? Obviously I would like to spend more time in spiritual connection (and so would every heathen given the chance), deepening my understanding and creating opportunity for profound experiences. But: washing needs doing, there’s cleaning to be done, food to buy, a bill to pay, a phone call to make, a job to focus on. Mundane tasks which don’t automatically factor in a connection to the spiritual. Mundane tasks that take away my time from the spiritual. Sure I can pray whilst I travel, have 5 minutes at lunch to greet local landspirits, or dedicate queuing time to a mantra of praise, but it’s not the same. My practice gets a little boost up from these things, but compared to a whole day dedicated to thinking of very little else, well…
How do I balance? I have days where I think about a small part, do a new bit of research or follow a new reflective thought through to a conclusion, days where the practical takes over and my only tether is the comforting weight of my mjolnir, and days like Saturday where the whole day was uplifting spiritual resonance. I’d love more of those days, but maybe I need days in-between to be able to reflect on my experiences, to be able to value what I experience, to give it the weight of consideration it deserves. My practice has changed since I started: evolved, levelled up if you will, changed into what it is now, and will likely change and develop again. When I come home from work, profound spiritual practice is somewhere down the list: topped by getting changed, eating tea and finally sitting down. I can give time to prayer, formal or informal, discuss theology online, plan to go out and give offerings, but these take planning and practice. I have to keep giving time and effort to my faith, pull from my schedule to have dedicated time to focus, reflect and drive and deepening understanding of faith.,
My time can easily be filled with other things, there’s always something else I can spend my time doing. But my faith is important to me, important enough to spend frequently time focusing on that alone – developing my understanding of and relationships with the gods. Enough for me to consider a balance of my time, resources and energy in creating a spiritual life in the mix of my daily one.