“I feel so hopeless.”
In the ebb and flow of my own moods, I had hit another low tide this past Friday. I didn’t want to feel this way, but the week had swept me under for a lot of reasons – from hormones to the fact that my Chinese husband John had a really bad week (for reasons I can’t get into right now). So there I was, sitting at the kitchen table and letting myself get pulled into a whirlpool of negativity.
Then I thought of it – or, rather, her, my deceased mother. And just like that, I sprang from my chair and my mental abyss, as if pricked by some invisible pin. “I know what we need!” I exclaimed to John as I started opening a little box in the corner of our living room. “A little help from our American ancestors.” That box contained photos, letters and mementos related to my mother, who passed away when I was 17. I started arranging them in a corner to create a makeshift shrine. When I stood back and looked at it, I smiled in relief. “She will give us power and strength,” I promised my husband. And even though I had never been brought up with the idea of ancestor worship, I believed it.
I wondered what my mother might have thought of me now, praying to her the way my husband and his family would pray to the ancestors in the hallway of their home. While I’ll never know, I was sure of one thing – my husband changed how I turned to higher powers for help. I had left the Catholic church behind long before I met him. But now his tradition of ancestor worship provided me with the sense of hope I needed on a hopeless Friday afternoon.
What do you think of ancestor worship? Have you ever adopted the religious or worship traditions of your partner’s culture?