Even though I’m now a homeowner, sometimes it still doesn’t feel like I have a place to call my own.
Because each room has multiple functions, I have yet to find the perfect place for my Morning Ritual. While a cozy silent nook can always be found, as the day continues that nook turns into an office, an entertainment center, a place to pile laundry (okay, that last one is my own fault).
Each morning I wake up uncertain of where I’ll land, and for the most part, I don’t mind; after all, it’s what you do during your Morning Ritual that makes it meaningful. However, while I have my favorite cozy nooks—spreading out on the couch as I watch the sun rise, cozying up on my new daybed by the window, sitting outside in my garden as I take in the sights and sounds—there’s one thing I miss: having an altar.
While the term altar might seem all high and mighty, an altar is simply a designated place to gather objects that are meaningful and inspiring. An icon is often defined as “a window to the Divine,” and as a highly visual person, I know this to be true. The objects that I long to gather together act as icons for my spiritual journey, serving as a tool in my spiritual practice as they invite me to return and remember.
And so, I’ve decided to make my own travel altar—something to take with me from place to place, whether the cozy nooks in my own home or a pilgrimage abroad. I’ve gathered together items that hold spiritual significance to me and have placed them in a box to accompany me wherever the journey leads.
I have a feeling that some of the items in the box will always be there, such as a candle, a set of prayer beads, and my small book of words of wisdom given to me by a reader. Other objects relate more to my current curiosities and season in life—an image of the Virgin and Child from the Eastern Orthodox tradition; a scallop shell from Kyle’s journey along the Camino; moss to represent a season of growth, both without and within. And then there will always be objects that find their way in after catching my eye, such as the small piece of honeycomb, inviting me to ponder and encouraging me to find deeper meaning hidden in everyday life.
Whether you have a place of your own or, like me, seek inspiration in new places each day, I encourage you to create a travel altar, too. Find a good, sturdy box—small enough to fit in a suitcase but large enough to hold a collection of items—and gather in it objects that serve as windows to the Divine. Some objects might be fairly straightforward, like a candle or a rosary; others might be symbolic, like a feather to remind you of the movement of the Spirit or a leaf from a tree to remind you of the connection you feel with creation. You could also add pictures of those you want to call to mind during your time of prayer, such as a family portrait to keep those whom you love close during your time a way or an image of a sponsored child.
In the end, what you place in your travel altar is up to you because anything has the potential to serve as a window to the Divine—you simply have to pay holy attention. I know that my travel altar will encourage me to do just that, inviting me to seek deeper meaning even on the most ordinary of days.
What would you add to your travel altar? If you already have an altar, I’d love to hear what’s on it and what the objects mean to you.