A 3-wick candle, scent: Tiki Beach. A small glass makeshift flower vase made from a recycled medicine jar. A couple of white carnation flowers sneakily whisked away from an actual flower vase that my mother keeps fresh florals in beside a picture of my beautiful late grandmother. A bottle of rosè standing beside a second bottle of rosè, both gifted and waiting until the perfect moment to be opened. Around the necks, an also gifted napkin holder with a glossed green sheetrock pendant, and a fake white daisy I took off of an artsy boba drink and hung onto. Some greenery, a wine-glass my fiance and I created in a DIY lesson, and… Cue the flame. Light the candle. It comes alive, and so do I.
Oh, my little countertop. No, actually, my display? My exhibit? Santuary?
I couldn’t find a name. None of those felt like they matched the peace that all these pieces, being brought together, has brought to me.
But no need to fret with what we’re calling it.
“Mmm, Tiki Beach.”
Somehow, this was one of the highlights of my day. Lighting that candle, seeing all those inanimate objects there, where they live in our home, innocently not meaning to have meaning… but they do. Wanting to capture this moment in hopes that it could bring as much joy to someone else as it brought me, I took a picture of the display and posted it online. Within minutes, something happened. No, it didn’t go viral. No, I wasn’t flooded with likes, comments, or followers. It was something better. Something greater.
A soul-sister responded to my photo with one of her own: A hotel tabletop in Colorado, where she treated herself to a vacation. A tall vase with an arrangement of various flowers that she bought on her birthday in an act of self-love: a big sunflower, some mini lilies, marigold, babies’ breath, and their accompanying underestimated, too-easily forgotten gorgeous greenery. A One-Line a Day journal, with its partner pen to keep track of the many magical moments in her life. Balloons floating above the table, held down by a shining blue star. This image was sent to me with the message “From my altar, to yours.”
That’s what it is. An altar. How perfect that feels.
Usually defined as a ritualistic counter where presentations are made to higher beings, this moment shifted my Catholic grade-school definition of the word on its head. My whole life, I’ve known the altar to be where we bring our offerings to God. But there it was, my own altar, displaying the gifts that my life has brought me, and that my family has, intentionally or not, brought together and placed in this specific place and time. Perhaps this presentation, this gift-giving, this altar idea, is a two-way street: between God, Life, or the Universe… and us. Well, don’t I feel special.
Looking at my altar, my heart glowed like my Tiki Beach candle. Seeing that my soul-sister found enough joy in mine to share hers with me lit the fire even more.
There are those places in our homes, the homes within our homes, in which we foster our most beloved moments through keepsakes, treasures, and knick-knacks. They come about naturally, and often, we don’t even realize we’ve created it. It’s the first place we think to put something down that might be worth keeping, showing off because we’re proud of, or put an item that is precious, or was birthed of an unexpected newly made memory. Some say people are simple, some say people are complex. We might be based on emotion, or we might run on reason. Head versus Heart. But how interesting, that even without intention or particular reason, we create these spaces.
I don’t know who you are, I don’t know where you’re from. But I’ll bet that you have an altar just like this, just like me. It might be a coffee table with keys or where you might jot down phone messages from loved ones. It might be a park bench that you laid out your phone and journal out on. It might be your work desk with what you consider essentials to get you through your day. It might be a shelf with photos and picture frames. It may be a drawer, even a bag. It might be a box or perhaps even a bowl. Whether it be from Life, God, or the Universe, we are being presented with these gifts, through our own hands. And I’m really hoping that you and I keep our minds and hearts open to seeing them. Because honey, we deserve them. They are those little things in life that we tend to go on and on about, and that keep us going on and on for. They are our souls decorating the small space in the universe that our bodies exist in. So if we’re not careful, we may be missing out on more than we even imagined, while it sits right in front of us. Afterall, we’re the ones building these altars in the first place. Odds are, if at this moment, you’re feeling safe and in your own little spot in this universe, you’re probably sitting right next to one right now.
From my altar, to yours.