What the dying too often realize too late, what the dead try to speak back to us from across the river, is that a bowl of cherries passed and received, scrambled eggs cooked for and eaten with someone we love “is everything”, is sacramental, is holy communion, is the touch of love. We don’t go to a church and gather around The Table of New Life because that table alone is holy, nor because that exchange of life and love in the form of bread and wine can only happen there. We go to be reminded that all tables are holy if we pay attention and consecrate them with love and humanity and reverence. All the tables around which we gather with partners, families, friends, classmates, work colleagues, and strangers are potentially sacred meals if we are present and grateful and aware. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber said “One eats in holiness and the table becomes an altar.”
Your body is an ancestor. Your body is an altar to your ancestors. Every one of your cells holds an ancient and anarchic love story. Around 2.7 billion years ago free-living prokaryotes melted into one another to form the mitochondria and organelles of the cells that build our bodies today. All you need to do to honor your ancestors is to roll up like a pill bug, into the innate shape of safety: the fetal position. The curl of your body, then, is an altar not just to the womb that grew you, but to the retroviruses that, 200 million years ago taught mammals how to develop the protein syncytin that creates the synctrophoblast layer of the placenta. Breathe in, slowly, knowing that your breath loops you into the biome of your ecosystem. Every seven to ten years your cells will have turned over, rearticulated by your inhales and exhales, your appetites and proclivity for certain flavors. If you live in a valley, chances are the ancient glacial moraine, the fossils crushed underfoot, the spores from grandmotherly honey fungi, have all entered into and rebuilt the very molecular make up of your bones, your lungs, and even your eyes. Even your lungfuls of exhaust churn you into an ancestor altar for Mesozoic ferns pressurized into the fossil fuels. You are threaded through with fossils. Your microbiome is an ode to bacterial legacies you would not be able to trace with birth certificates and blood lineages. You are the ongoing-ness of the dead. The alembic where they are given breath again. Every decision, every idea, every poem you breathe and live is a resurrection of elements that date back to the birth of this universe itself.
Today I realize that due to the miracle of metabolic recycling, it is even possible that my body, somehow, holds the cells of my great-great grandmother. Or your great-great grandmother. Or that I am built from carbon that once intimately orchestrated the flight of a hummingbird or a pterodactyl. Your body is an ecosystem of ancestors. An outcome born not of a single human thread, but a web of relations that ripples outwards into the intimate ocean of deep time.
∆ Sophie Strand, Your Body is an Ancestor
"The Tao translates as 'the way' – or you could describe it as the flow of the universe. The idea is that with wisdom and self-acceptance, you will align to the laws of nature, to going along with rather than fighting against..In Taoism, every moment defines the meaning of life. You're not striving towards meaning, you are living it – right here, right now. There is no ultimate goal, purpose or need, nothing to strive for.
To live fully, you have to let go and just be."
Something very helpful:
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time with the birds - you will reap all of the days golden grains.
Eat more green - you will have legs and a resistant heart, like the beings of forest.
Look at the sky as often as possible and your thoughts will become light and clear.
Be quiet a lot - speak little - and silence will come in your heart, and your spirit will be calm and full of peace.
All bread is made of wood,
cow dung, packed brown moss,
the bodies of dead animals, the teeth
and backbones, what is left
after the ravens. This dirt
flows through the stems into the grain,
into the arm, nine strokes
of the axe, skin from a tree,
good water which is the first
gift, four hours.
Live burial under a moist cloth,
a silver dish, the row
of white famine bellies
swollen and taut in the oven,
lungfuls of warm breath stopped
in the heat from an old sun.
Good bread has the salt taste
of your hands after nine
strokes of the axe, the salt
taste of your mouth, it smells
of its own small death, of the deaths
before and after.
Lift these ashes
into your mouth, your blood;
to know what you devour
is to consecrate it,
almost. All bread must be broken
so it can be shared. Together
we eat this earth.