I love rituals; they provide me with comfort, stability and a feeling of coming home, since the concept of home is an in-house place for me, meaning I provide that feeling not others. When I was younger others felt like coming home. When I would see and spend time with people I loved I felt a sense of belonging and home. I found out that farming out my home was a dangerous thing, like the scarecrow says “People come and go so quickly here.” And they do.
Rituals are a set of actions preformed for the most part for symbolic value. They are used to provide meaning to a moment, whether that be a milestone or breakfast. I change and update rituals as my life and values change. I used to go to Irish Pubs for Thanksgiving as I used to be on the road more during the holidays, it was great fun and wonderful memories. After I moved to San Diego those holiday travels stopped at least for Thanksgiving so I looked at doing some new rituals, in my new city. M first visit to San Diego was at Thanksgiving where I wandered on the beach outside the Hotel del Coronado I incorporated that to, “Hey I can do this every Thanksgiving cause I live here” and now I do. A beach walk to start any day is good but it is my favorite way to start Turkey day. If I can get pumpkin pancakes on either side of that walk I am golden!
The other ritual I added to my San Diego Thanksgiving is to watch “The Philadelphia Story, ”a favorite movie, at some time during the day. This old classic has Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Steward and a Cracker Jack script. There is no thematic Thanksgiving connection to that movie; it is just a classic I love which was confusing for a friend of mine whom I spent Thanksgiving with. He kept waiting for the Thanksgiving part to begin; when the credits rolled he was WTF? I am not what you call a traditionalist what can I say. Rituals don’t have to make sense to anyone but you.
I build a ritual when I need to acknowledge a deeper meaning in a moment. It is a breath I take, a stillness I invoke in gratitude or in reverence. It can be as simple as lighting a candle or making a cup of tea in my favorite mug to something more complex like a release ritual. That is where I write down something I want to release on a piece of paper and burn it with the intent of letting it go. I have done that last one in any number of venue’s from at home to at the beach. Marking intent with some type of ritual is a powerful tool, even if it’s writing a yearly blog as to the virtues of the season’s first eggnog latte.
Religions are filled with rituals so much as you can’t swing a live chicken and an obsidian knife without hitting one. As a child being raised Catholic I didn’t understand why I had to wear a doily on my head to go to church because I was a girl. Boys didn’t have to darn a doily; I didn’t understand what was so good about the part in their hair as opposed to mine? So other peoples or organizations rituals have not been ones I adopted but I loved the idea of them. I have been adapting and creating rituals in my life since my mid-twenties. One of the first rituals I created is to celebrate my birthday as a new year. I read my journal from the past year and look at all my accomplishments. I appreciate all the things I manage to muddle through even though I was afraid, or stressed or unconscious. I look at all the wonderful accomplishments I blew past once I checked them off my ‘to do’ list. I do not look at what I didn’t do. Those things are ever present on my new ‘to do’ list, OCD girl that I am. So I pop a cork and I drink a little bubbly to toast that I showed up and tried my best. That best can even be making an ass of myself at times, or simply when I was kind, or compassionate in the face of something ugly. And then I make notes for the next year by setting new goals pushing me to do things I think are out of my reach, things I think I cannot do.
By using rituals as I do they give me small discreet building blocks toward the life I want. They help me celebrate and mourn my beginnings and endings. Which is what life is really, our comings and goings, our story. Giving a head nod to the universe and ourselves is being present and showing up in our own life. I would hate to read about it after the fact and think sheesh what a waste of time, the plot didn’t move, the characters were wooden with no depth and nothing rang true. I would rather be part of the chaos of what ‘is’ and acknowledge the highs and the lows of them, as there is always a fine beverage, a sunset and lots of laughter built in with the thanks of my indulgence in rituals.