This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you’re craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet. If you bring the right earnestness to your homemade ceremony, God will provide the grace. And that is why we need God.
- Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love
I used to think that rituals were old, outdated things. I got bored at my old Lutheran church when we lit the candles, said the same words a million times, bowed to the same old traditions.
But as I grow older, I have found that I crave the deep meanings inherent in these and other traditions. In fact, I have found, like Elizabeth Gilbert, a need for more rituals than my own faith community and my culture seem to make room for. I crave a life and an existence which is full of meaning and meaning-making. Some days I rely on it to finish the day. So I have created prayers, rituals, other methods of filling this need in my life – in intentionally connecting my daily (sometimes drudging) tasks with the Divine. To consciously accept and remember that all of life is spiritual – even the boring and mundane parts. And especially the exciting and vibrant parts.
This is why I sometimes attend Anglican churches, even though I don’t always understand what is going on. This is why I love and connect with SCM Canada – we ritualize almost everything in a really joyful and meaningful way. National Conference was full of rituals. Local meetings, when we had them, were full of meaningful rituals. SCM, those wonderful Anglicans, and others have recognized the need to assign meaning to both trivial and spectacular life occurrences.
It’s cool. I dig it.