On Labor Day I walked down a few long blocks on the street where I live to the Boathouse near Inwood Hill Park. My husband took me there for the first time a few weeks ago and I just loved it. I knew this was going to be my new unplugging hangout. As soon as I arrive and walk down to the Boathouse dock I look out at the Hudson River and I just breath deeper. And the energy around everyone there, couples, loners, kids is just slower, calmer.
I sat on one of the benches in front of the water with my eyes closed. I was there hoping to to catch another incredible sunset like the one I saw when I came with my husband. On the bench to the right of me was a couple with a little baby girl. Just yards in front of me on a bench closer to the rocky shore was a couple, a young girl with her head on her boyfriends shoulder. To my far left I could see a young boy who had climbed out onto the rocks and was skipping rocks on the water. I closed my eyes again and felt a soft breeze roll over me. There was a scent on the air that I couldn’t identify right away. Was it herb? No, Sage. Someone was burning sweet sage. When I opened my eyes I saw that a woman who had walked over from the left entrance was sitting on the rocks with her back to me. She had burned some sage and lifted it up high above her head and turned, facing East, West, North and South before sitting down again to meditate. The smell of sage burning in the open air smelled wonderful. I was thankful for it.
I watched the woman and thought about my how my mother used to send my brother and I to her friends home in Harlem to gather with other children our age to learn about Black history, to watch educational films and to sit in healing circles where we passed around a smudging stick made of Sage. My mom burned a lot of Frankincense and Myrrh while I was growing up and she also dressed her candles with scented oils and glitter. I can remember smelling them and gazing at the glitter floating around in the wax. I didn’t know what it all meant. It was all regular beauty to me. These practices were part of ancient ritual cleansings and prayers for peace, love, abundance and manifestation of personal dreams through visualization in meditation.
This is the third time I’ve seen a woman in a public park doing a ritual by the water, praying, singing, meditating. There’s something healing about the water that we recognize intrinsically as women. It has a power we feel deeply connected to. At least I do. I always have. I tried to imagine a time when I would ever come out to the water alone to bless the space around me and praise the elements before I prayed. I don’t know. I think I’d like to do it in a guided meditation with other women. Seeing these women inspired me to think more about organizing a circle like that in my new hangout space.
I hope that all of their prayers and wishes come to pass.