Dear Ganesha, Patron Saint of Writers. ~ Elaine Mansfield

Via Elaine Mansfield
on Sep 25, 2013
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Ganesha altar [Elaine Mansfield]

In 1994, my husband Vic received another rejection for his book, Synchronicity, Science, and Soulmaking.

Disheartened, he added the latest to a small stack of rejection letters sitting under the feet of a bronze statue on his altar to the elephant-headed and elephant-bellied Hindu God Ganesha—Remover of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings and Patron Saint of Writers.

That night, Vic dreamed of a cheerful and fat-bellied young male elephant. The smiling elephant sat next to Vic in a director’s chair with a tree trunk arm thrown protectively over Vic’s shoulders. “I’ve been reminded that I’m not in charge,” he said after telling me the dream the next morning. “Ganesha is in the director’s chair. I’m not calling the shots.”

That week, Vic submitted his manuscript to Open Court Publishing and soon there was an acceptance.

Now, I write at the desk where Vic worked until his death in 2008. To my right, on a high book shelf above my reach, Vic’s elephant statues watch me. The altar is dusty and unkempt. For years, I have averted my eyes and neglected this altar in favor of my personal altar, near my meditation cushions in another room. But today I look up and remember.

In Hindu mythology, Ganesha is the scribe of the Mahabharata, an epic of ancient India that includes the Bhagavad Gita. I know the Bhagavad Gita’s message well. We are to do the work given to us without expecting worldly reward or success. The action itself—and the quiet mind that comes from serving something higher than ourselves—is the fruit of our labor. My job is to write, submit my work, and let the Gods (and Goddesses) take care of what happens next.

These are challenging goals for a woman full of attachment and expectation.

I pull a chair under Vic’s elephant altar and climb up to inspect it. There are a dozen images, from a one-inch seated statue to a regal seven-inch standing figure. Ganesha often has four arms. Sometimes he dances with his consorts Siddhi (Success) and Riddhi (Prosperity). He often sits on a throne of skulls, reminding us of time and mortality.

Most of the images are stone or cast bronze, but a few areVic and temple elephant 1993 [Elaine Mansfield] painted in bright primary colors. Most were gifts, received after Vic and I fell in love with temple elephants and Ganesha during three trips we took to South India in the early 1990s. In a favorite image, a painted Ganesha holds a pen and sits in front of a thick book—the Mahabharata, I assume.

I believe my book will help others accompany someone they love through the descent into illness and death. It will comfort them during the grief-filled dismantling of the ego and the life they must leave behind and help them emerge to create a wiser, more compassionate new life. Writing about loss and new life is my passion, along with working in bereavement at Hospice, but the book is finished and it’s time to help it find its way into the world.

So, I follow Vic’s wise example and turn toward the Patron Saint of Writers.

First, I carefully remove each Ganesha, elephant statue, card and painting and clean the shelf with a damp cloth. Then I inspect each image, dust and blow away the dirt that has accumulated in the crevasses and rearrange the altar. I place flowers in the front and a handwritten prayer under one statue:

 

Dear Ganesha,

Thank you for watching over me even when I ignored Your Presence. Allow me to write with a joyful heart and positive purpose. Let me remember that it is my job to do the work and leave the outcome to You.

With gratitude for Your guidance and help,

Elaine

 

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Edited by: Ben Neal

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About Elaine Mansfield

Elaine Mansfield’s writing reflects her 40 years as a student of philosophy, psychology, mythology and meditation and life on 71 acres of woods, fields and sunset views. Since her husband’s death in 2008, Elaine’s blog focuses on end-of-life and bereavement issues, marriage and the challenges and joys of her emerging life. Elaine facilitates hospice support groups for women who have lost partners or spouses and writes for the Hospicare and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County.

Comments

76 Responses to “Dear Ganesha, Patron Saint of Writers. ~ Elaine Mansfield”

  1. elainemansfield says:

    Thank you, Carolyn.

  2. elainemansfield says:

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Harriet. I'm getting the lesson loud and clear today.

  3. elainemansfield says:

    Ah, the laughing part. Good deep Ganesha belly laughs. I could use more of those. Thanks for your comment and your reminder of what is needed. The comments concretize the lessons of the piece for me.

  4. elainemansfield says:

    It was there all along, Marisa, but posting is delayed because someone at elephant journal has to OK the comments. Maybe you needed the lesson of the comments as much as I do.

  5. GRamam says:

    " We are to do the work given to us without expecting worldly reward or success. The action itself—and the quiet mind that comes from serving something higher than ourselves—is the fruit of our labor"

    Thank you for this important reminder – I forget too easily (and I was raised Hindu!) and thank you for your courage in marking the trail for the rest of us on how to renew life after deep loss….

  6. Wonderful, Elaine! Funny, poignant, and inspiring…. perhaps I need to get to know Ganesha, too! Thanks for sharing this great article! xo ~Ann

  7. Lori says:

    Another lovely piece Elaine!. You writing constantly inspires and moves me. Yet again!

  8. Michael D. Cooper says:

    Never too late to reapproach Lord Ganesha with a devotional heart and damp cleaning cloth…

  9. elainemansfield says:

    Beautiful image, Kathleen–both of them. Thank you.

  10. elainemansfield says:

    I forget every five minutes, Gita. Maybe that's why I had to write this article, think about work and surrender all day, and read comments expressing the same idea from different angles. Takes lots of practice. Thanks for your encouragement.

  11. elainemansfield says:

    Thank you, Ann. Thanks for giving me your precious time. Most cultures have a beneficent god like Ganesha or Hotei (laughing Buddha). Besides who doesn't love an elephant?

  12. elainemansfield says:

    Thank you, Lori. Your loving comment is the note on which I end this long day of hanging out with Ganesha.

  13. elainemansfield says:

    So true, Michael. We are forgiven by this beneficent god. Thanks for a morning smile.

  14. Barbara Platek says:

    Beautiful piece Elaine! May Lord Ganesha, patron saint of writers, continue to inspire and inform your work as it flows out to the world.

  15. Dotty says:

    Thanks, Elaine, for the gorgeous, gentle reminder. Your writing is so heartfelt and honest. Beautiful. Thank you.

  16. Cindy says:

    Elaine, I can see how you are able to help many people. You not only can understand their pain you can feel their pain as well.
    Thank you for every article you write – each one is so beautiful and meaningful.
    Cindy Stillman

  17. Cindy Stillman says:

    Elaine, I can see how you are helping so many people. You not only understand what they are experiencing – you can feel their pain as well. Each article you write is a gift to all of us. Thank you.
    Cindy Stillman

  18. Joshua Weiner says:

    Very moving reading. I loved it!

  19. elainemansfield says:

    Thank you for your blessing. And may I learn to surrender the outcome–just a little.

  20. elainemansfield says:

    As I respond to comments, I get the reminder over and over again. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  21. elainemansfield says:

    I hope just a little, Cindy. I seem to need these lessons repeated many times. Slow student. Thanks for your kind words about my articles.

  22. elainemansfield says:

    Thanks, Joshua, for reading and responding. I appreciate both.

  23. Laurie says:

    I didn't know about the connection between Ganesha and writing. Time to find one for my study. Thanks Elaine for sharing images of your writing life, Laurie

  24. elainemansfield says:

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Laurie. Writing this article and reading comments helped me appreciate my need for Ganesha's lessons.

  25. Your connection with your husband is ongoing. The loving kindness that you enjoyed comes through in the most gentle ways, in your writing. I enjoyed your insights on Sri Ganesha immensely. While Sage Vyasa dictated the Vedas, as outpouring from Cosmic Mind, Sri Ganesha was the stenographer… there is a precious story, full of insights for writers, about how Ganesha came to be the stenographer of the Vedas… I'd like to share it with you when it's not so late.

  26. I loved your prayer to Ganesha, and your husband's altar shows a most calming harmony and beauty–a beauty enhanced by your loving touch.

  27. elainemansfield says:

    I came here to share this article and find your comment–so long after you made it. I'm sorry I missed it earlier. Thanks for details about Ganesha. I usually call him the Scribe. I'd love to hear the story, but it might truly be too late. My husband would be glad that I tend that altar, arrange the statues (close together for the photo), and say the prayers of gratitude.