This past week I walked into the temple room of the Bhakti Center for Thursday night kirtan and saw an empty light socket attached to a cord dangling from the ceiling. It looked like a mistake, like someone forgot to put in a light bulb or like the cord had come loose from the ceiling. The emcee of our evening, Jai, came in and explained that he wanted us to plug in that night. He told a brief story of someone asking him for urgent guidance. The man was so angry, he said, that he literally had plans to kill someone and was asking Jai for a meditation technique to rid him of this urge. Jai immediately had to plug in and be present for the situation because time was of the essence. Jai’s stakes were raised because he was only given that moment to be of service. It made him realize how we don’t have control over the future, we only have right now, so we should make the most of our time and stay plugged in. Jai plugged into his faith, his service, his spiritual world and offered all of that to the man.
During kirtan, we turn the lights down in the room to illuminate the deities on the altar. Jai brought out a clear bulb, screwed it into the socket and created a beautiful illumination that made us plug into our service and devotion for the evening. It was a powerful symbol and a great visual experience for us. When your stakes are high, when someone needs help, or when YOU need help, you've just met your limit and need to call in the reinforcements - what do you plug into that gets you centered and calm?
This lesson of plugging in because we only have right NOW made me think of a recent trip with friends to Ringing Rocks Park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Because of the stress from the election and current events, transitions from the season change, mourning recent deaths, and escaping busy work weeks, our group decided to get out of the City and plug into nature! She is always the best medicine, right? We saw (and heard) so many incredible things while exploring. The prehistoric rocks which look like a giant dropped them out of the sky into a dried up creek bed and left them there thousands of years ago. And as the rocks scattered, someone nearby must’ve heard them clang against each other, detecting actual music, and decided to build a park there, and advised visitors to bring hammers to create their own rock concert. We banged and clinked and made music with nature. It was good for all of us.
As cool as the rocks were, I keep coming back to the image of this tree with the knotty roots. It was like that same giant had come along and plucked this massive tree from the ground and laid it gently on its side, making sure not to disturb the forest around it. Or for no apparent reason, and despite its incredibly strong root system, the tree got tired and just somehow laid down.
So much is happening in our world, I feel like we’re all in a game of bumper cars. It’s not IF we get bumped, it’s when. And despite our best intentions, it’s not IF we bump someone else, it’s when. We’re all so sensitive and prickly, quick to judge, quick to defend. Maybe we all just need to take a hammer and bang on a pile of rocks! Or gently lay ourselves down for a nap and not disturb the forest around us. Do whatever you need to do, dear friends, to plug in. The only time we have is NOW. Screw in your light bulbs. Raise your stakes. Be of service. Make eye contact. Say you’re sorry. Say thank you. Listen. Tell your people you love them. Love yourself.
Now is also the time to cook with butternut squash! My local CSA awarded me a massive gourd with so much orange flesh I wanted to roast it and eat it with a spoon. I resisted and dug through my fridge and freezer and found some cream cheese, eggs, and frozen pie crust. I made a tart! It was like savory pumpkin pie. Plug into fall! Get a squash and make this for someone you love.
Butternut Squash Tart With Rosemary
- 1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash flesh
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup softened cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 2 ready-made pie crusts (or show off and make your own!)
Fit the crusts into tart pans or pie tins and blind bake them. While the crusts are baking, combine all of the other ingredients in a food processor or blend with a handheld electric mixer until everything is completely incorporated together. Pour the mixture into the 2 crusts, spreading it out evenly, sprinkle the tops with more chopped rosemary. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until they begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven, cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.