Ritual and rhythm — the world is full of them. There are natural rhythms in nature: the change of seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the phases of the moon, the ocean tides. There are cultural rhythms too. The Summer 2016 Olympics just finished a week or so ago and in 2018 we will have the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Elections happen every two to four years. In our culture we celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, the Fourth of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving. These are marker moments in the culture. In a week or so we will mark the 15th Anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11th in 2001.
There are personal rituals: morning coffee, prayers, exercise. Here at Canterbury we host a Tuesday morning men’s group with FORGE, Wednesday Rotary meetings and Sunday Services with Incarnation Church. At home I walk the dogs, feed the horses and turn them out. Whether it is weekly staff meetings, monthly board meetings, holidays, travel, the list could go on and on; life is full of rituals.
Time keeps moving and rituals help us mark the time. As a priest in the Episcopal Church I live within the rhythm of the church calendar year which is anchored in the feast days of Christmas and Easter. These marker moments orient us to life and without them time would just roll on and we would not recognize necessarily each years passing.
Are rituals important? Absolutely. Rituals anchor us and give us a perspective as to where we have been, where we are and where we are going. Rituals give us a means of interpreting the moment. Rituals give us a sense of safety and security.
A healthy home, a healthy life is one that is rich with ritual. These ritual moments give us pause to reflect as we enter a common, familiar space. I have many rituals in my life. In sharing our common rituals we experience a bond, a sense of oneness and sense of connection and belonging.
In 1982 after graduating from college a ritual began that continues to this day. Every first weekend in November a number of my college buddies and I retreat to the mountains for a weekend to renew our friendships, wander in the woods, and in a real sense go back to college for the weekend. We have had a few near-death legendary experiences as we climbed around the rocks on Shumont Mountain. We laugh, we jab each other with one liners and jokes, we talk and tell stories from the last year and from all of our life. We tend to walk away each year with a joke (some not appropriate for this forum ;-)) and music that has become a soundtrack (I remember in particular the year we stumbled onto David Wilcox!).
This as been an annual event and this November will mark the 35th such trek into the hills. Is a first and a recent such photo of the group…
I share about this trip all the time and people are amazed and more often than not envious of this group bond. I know I am richer for it!
So as you journey to home, look for ways to cultivate, create and celebrate ritual moments. Rituals are an essential part of the content of a life well lived.
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