Similar to a (good) habit.  Helps all stay more easily on the path of choice.  Both tradition and habit are watched over by awareness.
Traditions are forged through the courage and effort of our ancestors:  they are our rich inheritance.  They should not be thrown out on a whim. 
Tradition holds together the community of the past, present, and future as one, while allowingconscious change across time.
The Covenant or Creed is the most important tradition for a spiritual community.  It should hold clearly what has brought these people together; what they are trying to live up to together.

Supermarket friendships

A delightful experience in the supermarket.  I was in line to check out when an old Chinese man in the next line came towards me looking at my cart, then at me, then at my cart.  (I knew he was Chinese by his long white stringy chin-beard, like out of some ancient poem).  I asked him “Can I help you?”  In pretty good English he said, “I look ideas about healthy food.  What you have?”  This was just a quick stop for me that day.  I pointed to my stack of cheap t.v. dinners – “These t.v. dinners are just $1 each,” I explained.  I buy them for the tasty sauce and then add more meat and vegetables, because I’m no good at making sauces.”  Then I showed him my two bananas, my Brownberry bread – “This is healthy,” I said,  and my organic lettuce.  And then it was time for both of us to proceed to our checkouts.  Finished with our transactions, he came to me again.  “You write for me name of these things?”  I took a paper and pen and wrote “Michelina’s t.v. dinners, Brownberry bread,” etc.  He pointed to the word “t.v.”  “What is this t.v.?” he asked.  “Television,” I explained.  “You microwave these and have a quick dinner ready.”  “Oh!”  he said delighted.  “Eat while watch television!”  “Yes,” I affirmed with a smile.  “You my teacher!” he exclaimed twice, and with a head bow and warm smiles we separated.  It was all so unusual and delightful, I wondered if I ought to get his phone number or something!  I felt such warmth for this lovely person, and wondered “why”, as we often wonder when the unusual happens.
    My first reaction later was to feel how glad I am to be 70 years old. Had I been younger I might have felt embarrassed by his approach or afraid those behind me in line would be impatient or judgmental.  But we were two old strangers interacting with the freedom of elders, feeling secure with each other in some indescribable way.  We were beyond caring what we look like to those around and could just be open and human with each other.
    I later remembered a news story that in Japan there’s been a rash of petty thefts by senior citizens.  They’ll steal a loaf of bread, get caught and taken to jail for a night, and then released.  Then they do the same thing again.  It seems they’re lonely!  In jail, they have people to talk with.  Perhaps my old Chinese friend was just looking for an excuse to chat with someone.  If so, he made my day.
   And now, I pay attention in grocery stores for folks who look like they just need a human chat.  That isn’t hard to do…

May Day

   I think of my Mother on May Day.  May 1st is celebrated  in a variety of ways that I know of:  the common worker is honored in communist countries; pagan traditions celebrate Beltane, the time for mating; and spring is celebrated in northern countries.  My Mom grew up with some tradition that she seemed shy about pushing on us but it obviously warmed her heart.  She would say with a hesitant but happy smile “It’s May Day!”  And then something about flowers and baskets that faded off, as if she felt alone in this dear little tradition that society no longer keeps.  I always wondered what the whole picture was but never pursued it.
    There were many things my mom would mention about herself – her childhood, the dreams and experiences of her life – but I was full of myself as young people are, and failed to show interest in her thoughts.  She, being shy, never pushed herself on others.  How I wish now that I’d taken time to chat with her and know her!  I can only remember her little comments and try to fill them in with imagination.
  I’ve learned somewhere that on May Day there was often a custom that children made either paper or real baskets and filled them with flowers from the woods, then brought them to parents, teachers, neighbors, perhaps left them hanging on their door knobs.  Mom so loved the wild flowers in the spring woods of Michigan:  the dogwood trees, the little pink and white Spring Beauties, the violets, the snowdrops, and the gorgeous white trilliums.  Wherever you are, Mom, I hope you’re always surrounded by beauty and know that your life is still appreciated.