I took this picture a week or so ago. I had just plopped down onto my bed and was looking toward the bedroom windows when my cat, Darel, walked into the room. Sometimes, when sunlight streams into the room through these windows, he and I will cuddle on the floor in the warmth of the light. He greeted me as he came into the room and then walked right past me to take a seat near the window where he could see outside. And then I snapped this pic.

After clicking the pic on my phone, I went to the gallery to view the pic. It appeared to me right then that so much about the pic communicates many of the things that I hold dear, and I thought to share those with you.

In the picture you’ll see a plant. This plant is known as a Christmas Cactus. It isn’t blooming right now, but when it does it produces rich red flowers that feel kind of waxy to me. It was grown from a pruning off of a friend and coworker’s own plant which she had in the office. I value all expressions of life and I love that this cactus is an heirloom of sorts. Life being passed on and grown fresh from that sharing.

Speaking of valuing life, Darel is a fantastic example of life I value. His version of consciousness brings joy and comfort to my home. Further, we have him because *I* wanted him and since the moment I picked him out from his litter he bonded to me as his human. He seeks me out wherever I am in my home and he talks my ear off frequently. I love that he’s in this pic because he’s sitting near my pujasthana, on a small chest, and looking out the window and the world outside. He’s always near me when I do puja and meditation and stops short of insisting I let him participate. And him looking outside makes me smile because he’s curious and in his own way is probably trying to understand so much beyond what he is able.

The pujasthana / mandir you can see is one I’ve had for a few years. In it are housed a maha-murti of a version of Viraganapati as well as smaller murtis of Shiva, Lakshmi, Hanuman, Buddha, other murtis as well as some rudrakshas, a ganesha yantra, and a framed photo of my lineage’s four most recent gurus, Lalaji, Babuji, Chariji, and Daaji – which was a gift to me from friends in Heartfulness. This mandir is a physical manifestation and representation of what religious expression my life has. Obviously, things in this context are a bit bigger than the simple pujasthana can depict, but it suffices to bring so much to my mind.

The small chest Darel is sitting on is something I’ve had for a while and inside it I stash a wide range of things – most of which have to do with extra puja items and other religious or spiritual paraphernalia. I hardly look in here unless I absolutely need to. This chest is bittersweet to me. The good side of this item is that because of the chest being there, I have access to things I might not otherwise be able to hang onto or have handy. The flip side of that is that the chest represents baggage. Essentially, crap I feel like I can’t let go of or go long without. I have more evolving to do.

On top of the chest, and next to Darel, you’ll see a book. It’s maybe tough to discern but that book is packed full and totally stretching beyond what it should. This is my version of a witch’s Book of Shadows. Witches keep a Book of Shadows as a dedicated place to compile their religious and spiritual knowledge – and that’s exactly what this book does for me. In addition to being a wisdom holder, this book hold photos of some of my loved ones, pressed flowers from funeral and other events, drawings I’ve made, etc… The book is of a good size and build but very quickly I knew it would run out of space so I started gluing in inserts that fold out or pop up so that each page with this feature can actually serve as many pages. The book, with all of this, now has a belt looped around it to keep it tied closed – or as closed as I can make it.

I’m sure you’re looking at the pic and reading these things here and thinking to yourself, “Big deal.” That’s okay. There’s more to this pic than the things I’ve mentioned and even if I only took the pic because of Darel it would hold no less value or meaning to me. Is there anything in your life that you look at at think to yourself, “This sums up SO much”?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti