But one day I received a phone call from a fellow priestess who was troubled by my disappearance. Several tearful hours later I had to agree with her basic assessment – that being Qadishtu was more than someone’s “movement”, or a religious path. Being Qadishtu was an essential part of who I was, and I could walk away from the trappings, but not the calling.
I remembered how, as a high school student, I would intentionally make eye contact with teachers as they lectured, so they’d know at least someone was paying attention. Or how I would leave notes on co-workers cars, just to brighten their day (particularly if I knew they were having a rough time). I remembered the day I was waiting for a bus, and a construction worker passed by where I was waiting, and I smiled at him. A few minutes later he walked back the other way, and I smiled again. He stopped in front of me, smiled back and said, “You have such an incredible smile. Thank you!” and then went on down the road. Those little moments of connection, those times of reaching out to bring joy, or comfort, or a little touch of deity…those moments are as essential to my soul as breathing is to my body. I’ve spent my whole life dedicated to sharing love with people – connecting and soothing and chasing away the loneliness and isolation this modern world imposes so often on the people around us. I know that loneliness and isolation, and I can’t help but feel it in the people around me. And when I feel it, I have to reach out and try to do something about it. It’s just part of who I am, which is all tied up in how I love, and how I relate to the people closest to me as well as those who pass through my life briefly.
Still it was hard to risk staying involved. I knew too many people, there were too many expectations, and I had too much knowledge in my head of the reality that so starkly contrasted the “public image” of what I had been involved with before. I was very tentative with my involvement. But I saw something happening that I felt strongly drawn to be a part of, and so I volunteered to help with a “Red Tent” being offered at an event I was attending.
The transformation I experienced that night was overwhelming, and it took me a while to assimilate what I’d learned. I only worked with two seekers, but the peace and “rightness” and sense that this is what I was meant to do, and this is who I was meant to be, washed over me in a wave of heat and love and power. I received so much more than I gave that night, because I knew deep into the depths of my soul, in a way I’d never experienced before, that I’d been touched and affirmed by deity. My service was accepted, and what I was doing was “right” (even if I’m never quite sure of what I’m doing). I had a sense of “coming home” to what I was, when I hadn’t even realized I’d lost myself. From that moment, I’ve known I need to stay connected to this work and the people who are doing it. And I want to learn more – I want to get past the sense of “guessing my way through things” and be able to know when the power if flowing, and to “see” better what needs to be done. All of which means risking being open to what the gods choose to show me (and that isn’t always comfortable or easy).
For now, I hold on to the concept I encountered in a fiction book written by Spider Robinson. In his book Lady Slings The Booze, the main character Joe has been taking a tour of Lady Sally's bordello, which is designed for "equal opportunity enjoyment" (from the back cover). One of the "artists" who work there is explaining the ropes to him after he's been awed by how the operation works:
Just one?" I said dubiously.
"Well, yeah. But I admit it's a little tough to really learn how."
"Okay, I'm ready."
"Pay attention," she said.
I waited to be sure that was it, and said "That's it?"
"That's it. Pay attention. You're being paid money; pay back attention. Real close attention. Everything else happens naturally."
That to me is the key component of being Qadishti – Paying Attention. Whether it’s the woman you see on the bus clutching her purse a little too tightly and surreptitiously wiping a tear from her cheek, or someone who asks you for relationship advice, or a client who’s come to a temple to experience sacred touch…Pay Attention. Listen. Watch. FEEL. And then reach out in love, and experience miracles.