I always feel guilty when I don’t write a real post in a day, and today I haven’t written anything. So I am putting up a quick placeholder, and then I will write real posts while you read this.
The way the burning bowl works (in case you want to do a ceremony for yourself, which I highly recommend!), is that you fill a bowl with baking soda. And then you pour on rubbing alcohol, enough so that the baking soda is covered. Then you light it by hovering a match over the alcohol to catch the fumes and light it. And then you take a little slip of paper, write down either what you want to let go of for the past year, or what you hope for in the coming year, and put it in the flame.
Now, when you are doing this in a room filled with people all with their little slips of paper, there are various fire hazards we have run across. The first year, we didn’t have full control of the flame. So after that we started bringing out pot lids to put over the bowls, it only takes a few seconds and the fire goes out complete. The second year, that problem was solved, but we tried using just regular paper instead of Joss paper, and it burned much too slowly. Slowly enough that there was time for it to catch in the air and start flying around.
So this year, I volunteered to buy more Joss paper. It’s special Chinese paper specifically for fire rituals like this. Usually it is tissue thin and with images printed on it, but if you go allllllllllll the way to Chinatown and hunt around, you can find stuff that is like regular note paper and is blank. Last Sunday I went allllllllllll the way to Chinatown (it’s on the south side, I’m on the far north side, so it’s a trip of about twenty miles), hunted through several stores, and finally found the paper. I bought loads of it, cut it up into the proper size, and was all ready for the service today.
And then this morning I dragged myself out of bed after staying up too late last night (got caught up in my fanfic that I still haven’t finished), put on my nice “leading a service” dress, put my hair up (fire hazard if it is down), put on make-up, then put on layers and layers of warm clothes and went out in the -4 degree weather (-20 in Celcius) and walked two blocks to the closest place I could find to park, dug my car out of the snow, drove to the church, parked, got out, walked to church, walked up the sidewalk to the entrance, and at that point remembered that I forgot the Joss paper.
It was just barely too late. There wasn’t time to drive home and get it. So I started the morning feeling all guilty and horrible about making this mistake that I couldn’t fix. And then I worked like a demon to try to make up for it. Set up the tables, carried the sand and the bowls and moved furniture, and cut up the back-up not-as-good paper as fast as possible. And then we did the service, it went fine, very impressive flames like usual. And then I ran around putting away everything I had helped set up. And then went to the store and bought toothpaste and dishwasher soap, and then FINALLY got to drive home.
So, that was about 5 hours in total, digging out the car, driving, setting up, putting down, shopping, driving again, and so on. And I came home chilled and tired and went straight back to bed.
But now I am up! Oh, and I also finally remembered to eat something. And now I am going to try to catch up on Koffee and maybe finish the fanfic and just generally think clearly and try to forget that I FORGOT THE JOSS PAPER!!! AFTER ALL OF THAT!!!!