Our lives call us to attend to the special moments. All over the world people have created rich and diverse ways to mark the milestones of life. Weddings, births, deaths and everything in between are indicators of this being something other than an ordinary day. Rituals assist us in fashioning ways to honor these sacred times. There are other methods to make note of these days, but today I would like to talk about ritual.
Ritual is simply a way to shift the mind away from the ordinary toward recognition of something other; I would say something sacred. It can involve a special location, time or place, many people or just one. Ritual may be a way to connect with the Divine, which is known by many names, or it may be to connect with our selves. However you view ritual I believe it has a fundamental place and purpose in our lives. I also think it is possible to design your own rituals. As long as they cause no harm to yourself or others, I say delve in!
For many years one of the rituals I enjoy has been in celebrating my birthday. Of course, it is always enriching to join with family and friends to partake of cake but I add a bit more. The morning that my day of birth arrives to remind me of another year granted I engage in a ritual bath. I always put red rose petals in the bath to remind me of the vibrancy of life. A few moments of quiet take place as I reflect on what I want to release and what I want to bring in for the coming year. I use the petals to cleanse myself. Doing so I release anything that I no longer feel the need to carry. This makes way for new experiences, people and things to emerge. The softness of the velvety petals remind me that this year is filled with gentleness, Grace and beauty. My task is to remember this and notice it as much as I am possibly able. I always return the petals to the Earth with a small acknowledgment of gratitude.
Such a small ritual; there is no fanfare and yet it establishes a measure of stillness within me. I move forward each year from this place of ritual inviting the Sacred to reveal its Presence to me once again. I am never disappointed opening that door.
*Photo by Dennis Wong*