Ritual Cleaning and Jell-O

From the New York Times, Feb, 2008:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/07/nyregion/07nuns.html
Ha Tran was applying the final swipes on Saturday to a 20-foot Buddhist statue inside a Chinatown temple. It took two days, but Mrs. Tran, a 62-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, lovingly washed every one of the deity’s thousand arms and did the same for its 10 heads. Balanced on scaffolding, she painstakingly removed 12 months of accumulated dust and incense in time for the Chinese New Year on Thursday, her yearly rite for 22 years.

I am fascinated with cleaning rituals. I love the idea of starting over or as the saying goes “starting with a clean slate”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wait 12 months to dust or wait until the new year to give my home a bath, but I do feel there is a special significance in starting the New Year with some type of cleaning ritual. The Chinese feel it is necessary to sweep towards the door and on the front porch. This releases the bad luck and removes it from the house. The Jewish ritual involves a spiritual cleansing. The way 2008 turned out both types of cleansing sound right to me.

This January I started the new year with a renewed faith in myself, sort of a spiritual cleansing of my negative thoughts and actions. I have some medical battles to fight this coming year and I am determined to face them with a positive attitude. I am one to always look for ways to better myself and so I view this battle not as a health issue but as a spiritual battle much like the one Arjuna was forced to face in the Bhagavad Gita. In the end I am hoping for a victory for my heart (it will receive a new valve) and soul (it will be cleansed of negative emotions). See why metaphorical cleansing rituals are a fascination for me?

Today I decided to clean out my spice cupboard as part of my new year cleaning spree. I noticed lately some of my recipes have not been coming out quite right. The flavor is lacking in many of my dishes. Turns out many of my spices have been expired for a year or two! All of my “Italian” spices (rosemary, thyme, basil etc…) all smelled the same; like old grass clippings. No wonder my basil chicken is bland and my spaghetti is sub-par. And did you know Jell-O packets have expiration dates? It is true! Jell-O, the magic gelatin goes bad. Yes I call anything that goes from powder to dark chocolate pudding in five minutes magic!

So now I have one more item to add to my list of new year rituals. I will go through my pantry and spice cupboard looking for expired cans and jars. Buying new basil, rosemary thyme etc… will (excuse the pun but here it comes) add spice to the upcoming year!

Now it is your turn, tell me your new year’s rituals or of any cleaning rituals you may have. I am always looking for spring cleaning tips!

When in time would you like to be?

So, NPR did a story this week on time travel. No, not a debate on whether it is possible or not, rather an open forum discussion on the questions “if you could travel to any point in time, where would you like to go? I thought this is a great question to raise.

As a visitor, when in time would I like to find myself? There would be so many opportunities to learn about our past, how to choose?

What would I want to accomplish? Who would I want to meet? Ah, now here is a good place to start, who would I want to meet and why. The first person, but my third choice, that comes to mind is Albert Einstein. Not only was he a brilliant man, but the way he pictured or daydreamed his theories blows my mind. I would love to hear him describe his thought processes. Dante Alighieri is my second choice, but since I don’t speak Italian and he does not speak English, we would have a hard time communicating. It would be wild to get him to sign one of his books though. Imaging bringing back a signed copy of the Inferno! No other medieval scholar could claim such a boast! Now my first choice poses many logistical and linguistic problems, namely, what year do I dial in and who would interpret for me? How close are we to really knowing when the historical Jesus lived?

If I could work out all the kinks, I would travel to Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. My hope would be to better understand the man and what he really stood for. I would love to take the mystery out of his life and death. I know, I know, for some people, the mystery is the most important aspect of his life, but not me. I like solving mysteries. I want to know what really happened those last days of his life, and how it really affected those who knew him.

So my friends, where would you like to travel and why? Let me know and in the coming weeks I will post some of your answers.

Sari