But for the past few years, my altar's been boxed up in the garage. (Clearly, that's a problem. All sorts of bad feng shui there, I know.)
So, last year, I finally took it back out. Because of where I have it set up this time, though (and my propensity for pyromania), I can't really light all the candles I'd like to (or need to). So, back in December I picked up a pack of those battery-operated tea lights. I thought, at least they could give off the illusion of the altar being lit up because, you know, Jesus falls for those things all the time. But, more importantly, they would serve as a little reminder to me when I walked by and saw the flicker, freaked out for a few seconds that it might be a tiny mouse with a dagger seeking vengeance for the mass rodenticide poisoning of 2010, and then remembered that I was supposed to be praying for something, or at least contemplating something very intensely.
And, also, I wouldn't be convicted of arson. A big plus right there.
And it really did work. I got it all set up, dropped the tea lights into the candle votives. And then forgot all about them after the third day. That was over 6 weeks ago. And guess what???
They're still twinkling. Yes, really!! When I used them in my jack-o'-lanterns, I was replacing them every few days. When I weaved them through the garland on my mantel over Christmas, I had to ensure that I was turning them on and off with the rest of the lights every single night so that they'd last through the holidays. But not these guys.
These guys are still twinkling. Not brightly, mind you. Not steadily, even. But they're on. Surrounded by the baby shoes of my niece and nephew, a rosary from my grandmother, a wooden cross necklace from my brother and sister-in-law, a tiny ceramic frog from my father, a worry stone, yerbas buenas, memory cards from family funerals, a tiny cauldron from New Orleans, hope and wishes rocks from Seattle, a wrought iron cross from Massachusetts, and candles that remind me of my Tía Elvira's altar.
And all of this really really really makes me smile.
And for at least a few minutes, I don't worry so much that I'm not an active church-goer, that the only thing I'm truly devout about is being a mother, and that my spiritual dance card is not always overflowing, although my cup certainly is. Because it's not about where or how or when or how often you find a way to connect with the world beyond and outside of you, it's THAT you do it. In whatever way works best for you.
Last week, I was all caught up in the physical and emotional pull that the full moon appeared to be having over me. This week, I realize that it was PMS. But for those few moments I felt connected to something bigger than myself. And even today, as my breasts begin to swell, and the dreaded bloat begins to set in, and suddenly my house is cleaner than it's been in...well...a month, I'm still in awe that that happens because my body was made to have babies. And that makes me feel like the tiny speck in the universe that I am. And now I'm warm and fuzzy all over.
But that could be the PMS, too.