Autumn has always awakened in me the need to take in hand favorite rituals I’ve let go by the wayside, give them a good fluffing and then wrap them around my days for comfort. September is my January, a time to re-calibrate. And as a child, September represented going back to school, purchasing school supplies and new shoes. I loved going back to school. Older now, I still find myself considering a box of new crayons or a pretty binder each year when Labor Day pushes back summer. Seasonal rituals vary from household to household, but most families have them whether they are aware of it or not and these rituals are incorporated in going back to school, holidays, planting gardens or summer vacations. There are thousands of ways people mark the passing of time from one season to the next with rituals.
Rituals are of great value when it comes to relationships. Ellie Lisitsa, staff writer of the Gottman Institute writes:
“Rituals symbolize cultural identity and values we share with our families”
“Rituals ensure that people take time for emotional connection”
“Rituals can help us to process our feelings as we move through life’s transitions, and to stay connected despite our conflicts”
--To read full article visit https://www.gottman.com/blog/create-shared-meaning-rituals-for-the-family/
Annie Dillard’s words from The Writing Life speak to my heart on this topic, “What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, or course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is the net for catching days. It is scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.”
For me rituals are like doing the outside of a puzzle first; it’s the framework of my day. A day without rituals makes me feel harried. The rituals I do consciously or unconsciously hold me together when a day comes apart. Rituals create rhythms that seam together the patterns of my days. Some rituals have become so habitual I hardly recognize them to be rituals until I am faced with a big change. Some changes are known to tear a hole in the flow of my schedule and then I become discombobulated.
Recently I was thinking about what it must be like for all the people who have been misplaced at the mercy of hurricanes and earthquakes. Some of them have lost everything but their lives. I wonder if survivors of these disasters feel most lost without their stuff or their routines and rituals. I know we all have personal items with significant sentimental value and losing them would be quite sad. It isn’t my intent to minimize what folks in these places are experiencing, but when I imagine what it would be like I find myself thinking I would long for the everyday rituals. I would desperately desire to have my ordinary life back.
Morning rituals: washing face, brushing teeth, breakfast, coffee and devotions with husband, my quiet time in the guest room studying the Word and spending time with Jesus
Homemaking rituals: cleaning, laundry, planning and prepping meals
Evening rituals: Exercise, shower, go to work, home to read and sleep
How does one go about creating rituals to stitch a life back together when one is living in a shelter or on the street? I have no experience, no answers. I have this tiny memory of moving – nothing like a disaster, but uprooted. We had moved from California to Missouri in the month of January. Our furniture wouldn’t arrive for a week, so we stayed in a hotel. We had a new home totally empty without towels, dishes, or anything personal. Our daughters’ first day of school started in a hotel room. It was weird and challenging. I don’t remember how we fed them breakfast, but we had the usual morning rituals of washing up, brushing teeth and praying. The evenings included homework and reading a story at bedtime. We parents were confined to the girls’ schedule – to bed early with lights out.
It was a temporary inconvenience. Still it felt a little strange without our things and a normal routine. After awhile, a new place begins to feel ordinary and everyday, but with daily rituals the ordinary soon becomes extraordinary and appealing. I would love to hear about your rituals – the ones holding your days, weeks, and seasons together. And maybe even your sanity.