Every morning I open a drawer and take out my folded yellow and white bedspread. In a ritual process, I unfold the thirds across the foot of the bed, smoothing the fringe over the bottom. At the foot of the bed, I take sections in each hand and draw them toward the head of the bed. I slide my hands back along the fabric, feeling its rough, rich texture. Finally I step to one side of the bed and then the other, to complete the process.
This ritual brings me from the honored dream world of the unconscious night back into the topside, conscious world of the day. Even on dark winter mornings, the yellow and white flowers on the bedspread speak of sun. Day has come.
I keep my bedroom as a place of honor to the night time dream world (no e-mail, TV, texts, internet.). Treasure comes from dreams if you take the time to honor them, by watching, recording, and reflecting on the nightly installments. (Better than TV!) Many of us try to lead mindful lives. I recently heard author Murray Stein say that it is mindful to pay attention to your dreams. Yes.
Only when my bed is beautifully made, do I leave the bedroom and begin the day. I transition to consciousness and its gifts.
Every night, I fold my bedspread back up in the same ritual way and return it to its drawer. Like tucking the sun away for the night. I begin letting go of the daylight world in preparation for the night time, dream world.
This ritual began three years ago when I developed a severe dust mite allergy. All my bedding must be washed weekly in hot water. My woven cotton can’t tolerate that. So I wash it every month in expensive low temperature allergy detergent and tumble it on air fluff for hours to dry. I remove the bedspread at night to minimize my exposure to any dust. And so this beautiful, centering ritual developed out of need.
But isn’t that always the way? Rituals around life, death, marriage, birth, eating all developed because we had some deep need (initially probably all of these were instinctive needs). Ritual is a practice to keep what we value most front and center.
As a writer this ritual of making and unmaking my bed connects me to the larger creative world. It symbolizes the astounding cyclical rhythm of life. After the triumph of completing a first draft, a writer faces the agony of unmaking it through the process of revision. Making and unmaking, construction and destruction, this is the artist’s path. It can be hard to hold these opposite tensions. And we don’t get much help for this process from our culture.
For many of us, the old, established religions have become so codified into theological law, they have lost their numinosity. With their insistence that religious scripture is factual, they dismiss the more powerful truth of symbols and metaphors.
But we can create our own personal myth and find the meaning that resonates with us. This can happen when dreams of the unconscious night time world meet the light of the conscious, sunlit world. Something new, unexpected, and full of power is created. Something that only we can give. Something the world so deeply needs from us.