Friday is traditionally the night the Devotionals are held. Some Yummish have weekly schedules that differ from the classic Monday through Friday Dead Time. (Defined as the time when the soul is too confined to feel alive, it often coincides with the Time of Obligation or time devoted to doing what is necessary to survive in the circumstances in which one finds oneself due to one's birth or other cosmic accident.) Some of these will still practice the Devotionals on the traditional night, but that is a mistake. The purpose of the Devotional is to prepare a Yummish enclave for a weekend of Yummish Time. Therefore Devotionals are to be practiced in the time leading into the greatest period of personal freedom in a given time period.
Some have tried to make the Devotionals a mandatory practice for all. This, too, is an error. For many younger folks the proper use of such time is to pursue building their own individual Yum. It may begin with sleepovers with other children, shopping with girlfriends/playing video games with the guys, and countless hours of unstructured “hanging” with friends, but is part of the growth of Yummishness and must be encouraged. (Be warned, sometimes these events will involve your house and/or your car. These times will be anti-Yummish for you, but you will be rewarded with quiet the next weekend when it is time to “hang” at someone else's house. Be strong.) Friday Devotionals are most appropriate for couples and families with small children – people for whom the concept of “home” is very concrete, rather than a castle still being built in the sky.
You may have read (on some of the more suspect Yummish websites) of highly structured Devotionals, with standardized rituals and menus. There is nothing wrong with (most of!) these and they can be used if that is what appeals to you. However, they are not, as some (generally those selling weekend seminars in the back of “Open Exchange” promising “full Yummish awakening guaranteed.” For shame!) will tell you.
In order to be considered a proper Friday Devotional, the following tenets must be met:
1. It must be held in the “cusp” time – the time separating the Time of Obligation (school week, work week, overseas military deployment) and the Yummish Time devoted to celebrating all that is Yummy and pursuing the Greater Yum. For most people, this will be Friday night. The purpose is to release the stresses and concerns of the Time of Obligation and to gracefully transition into a more peaceful time. (In the Yummish tradition, this short period of personal freedom is the only time that really “counts,” where your actions and attitudes matter. Anything that happens during the Time of Obligation is considered simple survival.)
2. Music should play a part in the Devotional. This can be recorded music or live. It can be a single song played during the final commute of the week. It could be soft music played during dinner or a sing-a-long afterward. As in medieval times when townsfolk believed they could drive out evil spirits by shouting and loudly beating drums and sticks, the Devotional music drives out any remaining worries or concerns left over from the Time of Obligation past. When the music begins, you must put aside these ghosts of the Dead Time and not let them rob you of a moment of the precious time ahead.
3. Feasting should play a part in your Devotional. You may find it advantageous to make a meal at home, but it is not strictly necessary. If you enjoy cooking, do so. If not, do not force yourself. The meal should be enjoyable, and preferably symbolic. Some Yummish follow the Discordian tradition of the bunless hot dog, a perfectly acceptable Devotional meal that can lead to repetitious in-jokes about how everyone managed to fit into a post office box as well as high-pitched giggling. (If you are not aware of the Principia Discordia, Google it or ask the next old white guy selling “Grow Your Own Hemp” handbooks at the Farmer's Market. He'll have a copy folded up in his Grateful Dead tam which he'll offer to lend you, but touch it at your own risk. Trust me on that one.) Whatever the meal, try to be mindful of both the beauty of a world that creates so many wonderful ways to nourish ourselves and the strength and healing the nourishment is bringing to the body, repairing damage of the past and bringing energy to help you in the future.
4. Your Devotional must also feature an indulgence – something that, in small, occasional quantities won't do you any real harm, but that is not strictly good for you. Enjoy your indulgence, but stop short of the point of tainting future fun. For example, a glass or two of wine is preferable to a bottle or two; a dish of ice cream preferable to a gallon. (However, even this is subject to the “All Things In Moderation” rule, which requires a moderation of all strictures.)
5. The Devotional must, most importantly, involve intimacy. The type of intimacy that is appropriate will vary from enclave to enclave as circumstances vary. What matters is that the participants in the Devotional spend time focused on one another and the joy of being together. Whether this involves a special bedtime story or special bedtime playtime, the goal is to re-connect and strengthen the relationship after the separation brought on by the Time of Obligation.
Working within these guidelines, a Yummish Friday Devotional can and should be customized to best reflect the individual Yum of the participants. The best Devotionals are those that celebrate the specialness and uniqueness of your individual Yum.
Today's Yummish Exercise:
Plan your own Friday Devotional for your next “cusp” time. It is not necessary to get everything right on the first time, as the Devotional can grow and adapt over time. Instead, concentrate on representing the Yum of everyone involved.
Next: A Question of Deity or The God Thing