One of Many Shrines
I have a tendency to attack idols. Not too long ago Abel Keogh, the first widowed blogger I found on my first search just after my loss, advised a woman that her widower fiancee was "not ready to move on" because he had not yet dismantled the shrines to his late wife installed in his home. Ridiculous, I thought. There are good reasons for keeping visuals with the memories. And anyway, it’s rude to display family photos outside of intimate spaces in your home. I consulted important Miss Manners entries (Advice columns? Are those like blogs?) and drafted a forceful reply.
Then I looked around. Oy vey, are there shrines. Disrespectful as I am, I also pay obeisance to the vague spirit I’d like to have round me. Our old, tiny apartment had a milagro heart on every door frame in thanks for Gavin's surviving open heart surgery and its complications; those tin shapes are hung in this home too. And when he was very, very ill I did put together several shrines, even though none of them included his image until he died.
Here’s one that I set up next to the dresser mirror:
-- A thrift store porcelain saucer (in Japanese, cranes are often used on wedding kimono because they mate for life).
-- A blue and green glass heart paperweight, not my style, but heck, a heart.
-- One of Gavin’s many Ganeshes.
-- Two stones from our yard, which I saw as male and female: one, half grey, half white; the second, red and ochre, porous, with a hole in the top so you can see that it’s hollow.
-- A shrinky dink necklace I made for Gavin’s 55th birthday party: “55, still alive.” We gave these out, red or green cords assigned you to a team, and we planned to play “Survivor”-style games. More than 100 people showed up, the barbeque was about 8 pizzas worth of calories short, so we managed to judge the sculpture contest segment before we decided to just hang loose.
On the other of the mirror was a similar niche holding a virgin sculpture (from Oaxacan honeymoon), something paper, perhaps a ticket stub, and Milagros for whatever parts needed healing at the time (kidneys, heart, arm). After he died, I carefully stuck his boy scout compass there to help me find balance, or North or something. It's all packed up now for the move.
It makes you think about people's homes and faiths: how many shrinelets do folks really have in their homes? I'm always kind of spiritual, and as a UU I have room for pagan object faith, but if Abel Keogh addressed it, is it really that common -- not just a special spot for family pictures but a little haven for the household Gods?
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