Many Quakers limit the use of religious rituals. My understanding is that it is because of concern that the ritual may become empty and detached from the spiritual experience it is supposed to represent or facilitate. There is not much prescribed ritual in my life. I have added a bit myself, either intentionally or organically through patterns of behavior that I recognized to have additional meaning to me.
One of these patterns is my routine for opening the House for the day. My bedroom is in a back corner. You can basically walk a complete circle by traversing the rooms in sequence. Once I am ready, I start from my room, open the blinds in my office, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and finally the blinds covering the front door.* As each set of blinds is opened, light floods an ever-expanding portion of the house. The key is placed in the lock of the door and turned, inviting the world to enter here. The meaning is not lost on me, and I have come to embrace it and be intentionally aware of it.
Although I have unlocked the door, that is not the beginning of my work day, however. I almost always start the day with some study of a sacred text followed by some personal worship/meditation/prayer. Finding that my mind drifts sometimes, or even dozes, I wanted a focal point that I could visually touch to re-center when needed. I started using a candle–lit when I start reading and then blown out when I am done listening in mental silence. Since this is the last thing I do before starting my proper work day, blowing out the flame of the candle has become symbolic, not of losing the Light, but of a transition between the two phases of my day.
My last reflection on light in Quaker House has to do with inviting the light in. The kitchen has a set of internal windows. This is because the back two rooms are an addition to the original structure. As such, these particular windows look into the room behind, which is my office, and that room has paralllel grand windows that look out into an elevated view of the wooded area behind the house. At first, I kept these internal kitchen window blinds open. But then, the use of the office expanded to store bins of supplies for a new project. The bins are wonderfully functional. Their use makes them beautiful in the eyes of those who use them. But, to other eyes, they are just plastic bins. And so, I closed the internal kitchen blinds. But, I have missed the additional light and frequency of views of the trees, squirrels, and birds. Recently, the bin towers have lowered, and I have invited the light and the Earth back into more of the House once again.
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*For those of you familiar with the layout of Quaker House and realize that I have only covered half of the house with this journey, the front office is usually opened by the assistant, the bathroom blinds are usually already open because that window has a frosted covering, and the Counseling Room blinds remain open since that room is closed off anyway, thanks to Sophie the Cat who sheds potential allergens.