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Happy New Year (And Bali Cremations)

Dear Friends,


I spent my November in Bali. While there I watched a culture practice “ceremony” throughout each and every day. Ceremony is another word for engaging in a ritual to honor and recognize the Divine Presence. Each morning when I woke up and went outside there would be evidence of prayer remains at my front door. A palm basket filled with flowers and incense honoring the three-fold nature of The Divine. The physical, the Soul, and the Invisible. Each hotel, store, and place of business had a temple and in front of the altar would be evidence that someone had shown up to pray and bless. If I were to be driven around throughout the day the car would have the palm, flowers and incense on the dashboard. Rice or flowers may be in the driver’s hair, also evidence of ritual. For one month I was in the presence of a Hindu culture that was praying their hearts open and I could feel it.

The Balinese have their own calendar which is constructed of 44 day months. So, in November the year in Bali was 1941, before I was even born. On its calendar there is one day per month for weddings and one for cremations. If you were Balinese and wanted to get married then you would do so in your village temple on the designated day. Also, if you were to die during the 44 days, your body would be preserved until the designated day of cremation. December 3rd was Cremation day and in Sanur, the village I was in, there were six people who had died in the past 44 days, so six cremations.

The cremation ceremony starts at the public temple; this is the largest of all temples in town. After participating in a service a procession would happen down to the beach with the bodies carried by loved ones in a bamboo structure. Once at the beach the six bodies would be cremated while the people waited for the ash to become cold and to complete the ceremony with the ash being given to Mother Sea. Shared food of celebration would follow.

Below is a photo of one of the body’s being cremated. All six bodies were lined up within bamboo boxes being burned all at once.

Eight of my friend’s had died in 2018 so 2019 was in large part for me about fulfilling big bucket list desires, including going to Bali. It seemed fitting, somehow, that my vacation ended with a pubic cremation ceremony. It awoke me to a few things. First, it was refreshing to be in a culture that knew the village would be participating every 44 days in honoring the dead and putting them out to sea. I kept thinking how healthy it is for kids (and adults) to be awake to the normalcy of death. And likewise I was inspired to practice a more vigilant process of allowing death within my own self to take place; to actively let go of ideas and concepts I have outgrown and that need to be shed. So I have committed myself to engage in a release ritual every 44 days this calendar year.

Which brings me to this new year. I begin each year with a “theme.” As I mentioned last year was The Bucket List. This year the theme is still ripening within me. It has something to do with building capacity, detoxing, and immunity … but it hasn’t locked in yet. I will continue to sit with it in meditation and ask The Eternal Within for guidance.

As I close out 2019 I am doing an inventory of that which brought me closer to the awareness of The Presence of God this past year. Of course it includes nature, creativity, spontaneity, connection with that which is alive, and conversations about God. Thank you for being a part of this ongoing conversation.

May you be aware of how blessed you are in 2020,

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