Devotion With A Side of Emotion ~ Smoke, Incense, and My Dead Dad

Devotion With A Side of Emotion ~ Smoke, Incense, and My Dead Dad


Hello my fellow seekers,
This is a post from back in 2015.

It is my one and only Good Friday post so I trot it out every year on this day only this year it holds a bit more significance than the previous two since my deceased father has been around a lot more than normal.

As I wrote that I wondered about what constitutes “normal” when it comes to visits from dead relatives, but I have to say, in this instance, it has gone from almost never, to several times a week.

He arrives as cigarette smoke. Day, middle of the night, in my car, when I smell smoke—I know it’s him.
He hadn’t smoked in over twenty years when he died (of lung cancer) but he did my entire childhood and he LOVED it so I’m certain when he crossed over, as he stood at the Pearly Gates, they handed him the rule book, a white robe with M & M’s in the pockets, and an endless supply of Lucky Strikes.

We don’t chat like I do with the other disembodied ones. Apparently, he’s still not a chatty guy. But I will continue to ask him why he’s around and congratulate him on the use of cigarette smoke as his signal—it’s genius.

I hope this finds you all practicing devotion wherever you find it.

love you & Carry on,


1.) Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity
synonyms: loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, constancy, commitment, adherence,allegiance, dedication.

2.) Religious worship or observance.
synonyms: devoutness, piety, religiousness, spirituality, godliness, holiness, sanctity
“a life of devotion”

3.) Prayers or religious observances.

Devotion. What does that mean to me? What does it mean to you?

As a Catholic, I thought I had an idea, but the edges have blurred and I’ve been left to define it for myself.

This is an interesting time of year.
It’s ripe with the energy of endings; and new beginnings.
Deaths and re-births —— figuratively and literally.

We can practice our devotion inside this energy of change with Easter, Passover, the full moon, eclipses, and all other assortments of ancient and new age cosmic rites of passage.

Take me for instance; I am sitting as I write this, in a pew, basking in the warm glow of stained glass, inside of St. John The Baptist De La Salle Catholic Church— the church I grew up in — the church of my youth.

The one where I whiled away hour after hour of my childhood.
Some in innocent devotion, kneeling with sweaty little girl hands piously folded together, fervently praying my little girl prayers and later, in a pre-pubescent stupor, stifling yawns during my eight years there in the late sixties, early seventies.

Now, I’ve gotta tell ya, this retired Catholic is finding it…surreal to be back here, and I have to make this snappy.

I could spontaneously combust if the powers-that-be realize that I’m here, or the light from that stained glass baby Jesus hits me just right.

All kidding aside, recently my Catholic roots have been calling me. Their Siren’s song running lightly in the background of my life.

It all started when I began burning Frankincense incense in the mornings. I attempted subconsciously to counteract its effects on me by simultaneously playing a Buddhist chant with mixed results — that smell to me—still to this day–signals Lent.

Then I noticed, lo and behold it is exactly that time of year. Hmmmm…

That smell transports me back to Stations Of The Cross, a ritual of remembrance of the absolute worst day in the life of Jesus Christ.

As a little girl I loved rituals.
The smells, the cool, dimly lit ambiance, the notes played on the organ that resonated inside my chest and head, and the drone of the priest’s voice. They all conspired to “send me” to another place and time. They still do.

As I write this there is an actual organ rehearsal happening right this minute. Sending me…

Yet, even as that devout little girl, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around commemorating the days leading up to someone’s horrible, torturous, barbaric death and THAT little kernel of doubt, that one right there, started my life as a seeker.

Devotion as a religious observance.
I sat with my dearly departed father Friday in another church much closer to my home, (that now makes my church sitiing twice in one week, a personal record as an adult).

We sat together devoutly, he with his invisible hand on my knee to keep me from bolting during Stations Of The Cross, the first one I’ve sat throughout since eighth grade. It was faster and much…dryer than I remembered.

And no fragrance of frankincense — a crushing disappointment.

Still, I sat with my dad on the tenth anniversary of his passing… in a church…during Lent. And only one of us made it out alive…barely.

I’ll tell anyone I did it for him, but truth be told, that experience was calling ME.


To others?  To a practice?  To a cause? 

I think we can all relate to that.

How about…

Devotion as Love and loyalty, enthusiasm for a person or an activity.

To tradition.

To family, friends, and matters of the heart.

To times past.

To ritual.

To the planet.

To sacred places; temples, sanctuaries, churches, nature, Sephora, the bakery.

To whatever sends you and floats your boat.

To kindness and courage.

To mala beads, crystals, chanting, yoga and meditation.

To ancient childhood memories resurfacing.

To triggers; Smells. Sounds. People.

I’m getting a bit misty-eyed over here.
It must be a combination of the lousy organ music (he just needs more practice), and the fact that my fifty-seven-year-old butt is currently seated on the same hard wooden bench that my innocently sweet, but always questioning, seven-year-old butt sat.

Devotion to change.
I used to believe that religion and spirituality were mutually exclusive.
One told you no, the other said… perhaps.

Call it old age, or just a general unclenching of the fists that happens naturally over time, but I’m finding myself more and more belonging to Team Meh where our motto is: “Well, that’s not my thing — but good for you!”

Devotion to Neutrality or I’m in a Switzerland State of Mind
Daily I struggle with judgment. I know, it’s just me.
I’m striving to be for more things than I’m against.

I feel like after this week I can move the Catholic religion to my neutral list. At last!

Some people hang out in groovy cafes and write. I sit weeping in Catholic Churches.

Who knows what’s next?

Can you explain devotion? What are you devoted to, I’d love to know.

Happy Easter & Passover my loves,


My version of life. My stories. Told in my own words.

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