Circle of Joy and Sorrow

Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. -Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Drum Envy

Now I just attended the best drum circle of my life. I speak of the Westminster Drum Circle at the Westminster Unitarian Universalist Church west of Baltimore, which is run by this most amazing woman whose name I did not catch. I’ve been to many drum circles over the past decade, and even to the famed one at Free Spirit Gathering (which was actually a nightmare of these two dueling drum groups, but that’s another story). Yet tonight I actually met a woman who could organize one and she did a stellar job at conduction.

Applause done, it’s time to put on the pointy hat. I went with my seashell rattle and sat down next to a guy with three drums, all very beautiful. And it wasn’t very long before I found my jaw was sore from being clenched and my back was stiff. Here I was falling off tune, all because I couldn’t get over that this guy had three drums and didn’t have the manners to offer on to me. Not a lot like the Elder I keep getting told to rise up and be. I had to get up and flee the scene of my crocodile tears.

I weave back into this sordid tale that wonderful woman, who announced a request that we spend a round concentrating on the non-drum instruments, and came around with a basket of various goodies. I chose a wooden cricket, who came with a little mallet that you dragged up and down his wings to make him chirp. Three-drums man chose a fish. Other people chose triangles and rattles made of seed-pods and we began another round.

Rising wind brought in the night air that finally had begun to stay warm after the sun had gone down. I noticed the refreshing lack of extravagance in this small Christian church. I noticed the contributions of the guy with the awesome box drum that sounded like a snare, and the man who played the flute. I noticed the eye-candy across the way. And I found a way to let go how I felt being too poor to afford a drum of my own.

I mean to speak of more than a way to be good in the eyes of the gods; I mean to speak of an easy way to be happy. You don’t hear a lot of talk among pagans of something so ordinary as envy, at least when pagans are talking about their own faults. I suppose the Dalai Lama does not feel envy, but they searched the world for him. I admit that I struggle with envy flipping through magazines of beautiful clothes or watching someone else show off their camera phone. Envy’s proven a hard habit from which to be free.

Still, there is that line from the Charge of the Goddess that reminds us that all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals. And I find it works for me as it worked tonight, this promise that my happiness is worth as much as Three-Drums happiness, and so there’s nothing to be gained in shying away from whatever pleasures may be found. For there are crickets. And perfectly good rattles.
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