“Here! It is a blessing,” a smiling priest says handing me a purple plum.
I stand in a Hindu temple. My friend Beth is getting married in a nearby room. I have wandered into this hall of gods unsure if I am welcome. They line the walls. Some I recognize. Elephant head. Blue Skin. Infinite arms. Others…this is our first time meeting.
In front of each are an assortment of what I assume to offerings. Candles. Money. Incense. Food.
As I tiptoed around this unfamiliar space, I robed man emerged from a door and approached me with a smile. I stood in front of a goddess with a twinkle in her eye. Perhaps I could identify. She looked a little saucy. I’m not sure if I would be wise to trust her, though. (Others feel the same about me.)
He tells me she is Lakshmi, goddess of fortune
Huh…Fortune. Not really my thing. (You know…Teacher.)
But, he tells me, she is also Goddess of luck. I’ve always seemed to have more of that than seemed fair.
This is when he picks up a “plum of blessing” from in front of her and hands it so me.
“Is that allowed?” I ask the (ahem) Hindu Priest.
He laughs. Yes, he assures me. The Goddess of the twinkle dares me to taste, and I take a bite of my Plum of blessing. I thank the priest and wander back to where I belong.
On this final day of Ramadan (Eid Eve?!), the final day I will feel the pull of hunger so profoundly, I wish to pay tribute to the many men and women who have nourished me from other faiths and spaces.
To the Australian Buddhist who meditated with me on Loch Linhe in Scottland.
To the Pagan who taught me about the divinity of cliffs, pregnancy, and spaces of transition.
To the Jewish Family who sang me Shabbat in their home in the midst of mourning their middle son.
To the Agnostic who pondered with me Mormon roots and Academic branches at a café in Cambridge.
To the Atheist who dried my tears when an Evangelist told me I wasn’t her kind of Christian.
These humans have blessed my divine meanderings.
My favorite Mystic (because everyone should have a favorite Mystic) Simone Weil was born to an Agnostic Jewish family in France in the 20th century. She had a penchant for the poor. Laborers. Worked in solidarity with them and for them. Protested the Nazi occupation of her home. Fasted to raise consciousness of those living in Nazi Labor camps. Died of Tuburculousis at 34.
This melancholy character may seem an unlikely “Patron Saint of Barb”…but she also believed that if you didn’t get fired from teaching, you were probably doing something wrong.
She also became intrigued by Christianity, made friends with priests, but refused to be baptized because she felt to do so would be to shun the wisdom of all the non-Christians who had brought her to the door of the church.
Simone and I perhaps are best left sitting on the stoop of religion. We linger here with the beggars and loiterers. Hesitate to go inside the sanctuary where we must…
We bask in the Sun.
Hear the songs drifting from within.
Smell the incense.
It is enough…
We are in good company. We are in the World that we love.
These wholly Humans are my guides and comforters as together we try to make sense of our place in this vast existence.
You all are my pillars of faith…
Praise for you.
Plum of Blessing to you.