You did it! You observed 40 days of the Feast! You had a choice on what you could pay attention to, and you chose what I consider the "most important thing." You chose to deepen your spiritual connection. Whether you observed your spiritual practice every day or missed a day or two, I believe you made a difference in the world.
When I lived in the Zen Center years ago, we'd enter the zendo (meditation room) and bow with our hands together. We'd then bow to to our teacher, meditation seat, and to those across practicing with us. This gesture is called "gassho." It's a Japanese word that means, "palms of the hands placed together."
Placing the hands together, palm to palm in and about a fist's distance between the tip of the nose and the hand is a formal mudra—a hand gesture—used during meditation. It helps to establish an alert and reverential state of mind. Bringing opposite hands together can represent awareness of other opposites as well: you and me, light and dark, ignorance and wisdom, life and death.
You'll see a similar gesture as a traditional greeting in India, and probably in a yoga class. "Namaste"—and its common variants namaskar, namaskaara, and namaskaram—is one of the various forms of formal traditional greeting mentioned in the Vedas. It's a means of paying homage or showing respect to one another.
Namaste tends to be defined as some derivation of, "The divine in me bows to the divine in you."
In Buddhism, it's a gesture symbolizing the realization that life is supported by innumerable causes and conditions and that we are interconnected with each other through these causes.
As spiritual aspirants, we take the perspective of Namaste or Gassho with each other and with our teachers.
During our journey, w
e can encounter many teachers to thank and acknowledge. Some of the teachers that have influenced me on my journey I've never met, but their power is alive and has an undeniable ripple effect. I consider Rumi one of the great teachers. Let's look back at his poem that first caught Valerie's attention (the Founder of the Feast), and was the inspiration for the Feast for the Soul 11 years ago.
A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation, and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.
What nine months of attention does for an embryo
forty early mornings alone will do
for your gradually growing wholeness.
I offer a deep bow to you as you put your spirituality first and
to all of the teachers, modern and ancient, who dedicate their lives to peace.