It was well after midnight and I was hungry.
While I don’t know what it was that I wanted, I went to the refrigerator anyway.
When I opened the drawer beneath the produce drawer, I caught a whiff of the musky scent of….old blood.
That’s all I could think of – blood – meaty, dark, metallic.
Rummaging through the contents of the drawer I found the source of the smell beneath the poly bag of oranges, a few applesauce snack cups, and a half-eaten Hershey’s chocolate bar.
That scent was coming from a bag containing a cold loose lump of something…meat?
I peered into the bag to see a double Ziploc bag, with a date scrawled in black Sharpie marker.
Chicken hearts, to be exact, wrapped in beige butcher’s paper.
I held the bag in my hands, looking at the date in disbelief.
Two weeks ago, possibly three – had it been that long ago?
While the expiration date hadn’t passed, I realized I had forgotten.
Those hearts were meant to be an offering to Them.
I thought back to the day that I had written out the ritual that was to include them as an offering….but judging by the scent of them, I doubted that they would be acceptable offering now.
I stood at the counter, feeling the slow pang of remorse joining the insistent rumble of my stomach.
Empty. You must be empty…
I felt empty.
Half-heartedly, I peeled an orange, meticulously removing the pith as I considered the packet of hearts laying on the counter.
The orange was ripe and sweet, a delicious leftover from Yule.
As I stood at the counter, eating the orange, I thought about my father.
I thought about how, when I was a child, he’d told me that at one time, to be able to eat an orange at Yuletide was an especial treat – it was a gift and a luxury in itself to be able to enjoy an orange in the winter-time.
‘Oranges were expensive in December. Even from Florida,’ he’d said.
To eat an orange in December was a big deal.
I smile inwardly at the fact that I live in Florida nowadays…where, as one might imagine, oranges are plentiful and pretty much available year-round.
However, it occurs to me how often certain things can be taken for granted, especially when they are always available.
But the fact that oranges are always available doesn’t make them any less sweet.
Then, with the taste of oranges still on my tongue, my mind wandered back towards Them, and thoughts on gifts and offerings to Them.
I looked at the packet of chicken hearts, recalling the special trip I’d made to get them, and the particular ritual I’d written to offer them.
To give what is special and what’s best is all well and good, yes…
…and yet, I’d put off too long in the offering them, hadn’t I?
What good are they now that I waited too long?
What was I waiting for?
I don’t know.
The chicken hearts were for a special occasion ritual for late December…that, unfortunately, I hadn’t followed through on actually doing.
And indeed, what good is a ritual that one doesn’t do?
What good are intentions without follow through?
It occurred to me that I could have given Them a ritual in December and offered Them something else.
Anything else given with mindful intent would have served in the place of…not doing and not offering anything at all.
Heck, I could have offered Them oranges in December.
I reflected upon what I have offered and what I have taken for granted the past year, every year, any year.
I learn. I forget.
I noticed the sharp aroma of orange peel lingered on my fingers, as I dropped the handful of peels and the hearts into the garbage disposal.
I shall do better.
I resolve to be more mindful of myself and the gifts given to me
And I resolve to become more mindful of Them and in my offerings to Them.