I am in my forties with two teen children, a husband, and a very busy career. I find very little time for my spiritual self. Any personal centering I do, seems to be in my morning and evening rituals in my favourite solitary place; the bathroom. In our house this space is actually a very large room, 14 feet by 8 feet with a vaulted eleven foot high ceiling with a large window full of tropical plants and hanging vines. This room is also filled with many religious icons; Shiva, many versions of Buddha, several Mary ‘s with her baby Jesus, the head of the Green Man, and Various Fertility Goddesses. We renovated this room because it was actually the smallest bathroom in the world with only 2 square feet of floor space, a low drop ceiling and the ugliest busiest tile from the 1970’s everywhere.
In this day and age many of my friends do not have religion or even spirituality. They are too caught up in the practical daily grind of their children’s schedules, making money and spending money. I get caught in this cycle myself. It is not a bad life but it does feel, at times like there is not too much meaning in it.
So the bathroom is a few minutes of peace and quiet, where I gather up my thoughts and strength for another busy day. Ritual whether it is sacred or not consists of repeated actions done in a very specific way. The brushing of my teeth and hair, the washing of my face and hands are a ritual. My husband does not think this is at all spiritual and frowns at the idea of an article about the bathroom being a room for spirituality. I counter with “ the Pope washes the feet of the poor on Friday; I see this as being very similar. I am releasing the dirt and uncleanness of the day in my daily absolutions. I am starting afresh.”
I took my idea of the bathroom being a spiritual place one step further. I am the artist in residence up at a Unitarian Universalist church camp; Unicamp. I took on the task of beautifying areas; specifically the buildings. There are many outhouses since it is 60 acres of forest, meadow, stream and pond. These buildings are few and far between. In the past, traditional outhouses would have a crescent moon cut out of the door so sun light or moonlight could filter in so one could see where everything was. The out houses at Unicamp did not have this luxury and that got me thinking about my view on our bathroom at home. The divine is present in nature but was definitely not present in these small shacks. I wanted to change that. I started making moon paintings for these buildings in 2004 and I am still creating moons for the doors of outhouses and have now moved on to bathrooms in dorms, cottages and even the doors of shower houses. I took it one step further and elicited the help of my fellow art makers and got many people to make Meditation Mandala’s for the insides of these rooms and outhouses. There are some examples of my own work below .
The point of this diatribe, I think in our busy lives we need to make Time – however small- to acknowledge the worth of our own Spirituality ; even if it is to simply twice daily in the two minutes our electric toothbrush gives us solace before it beeps to say we are done with that Ritual and can move back into our hectic lives.
~ Lauren McKinley Renzetti
September 18, 2012