Some have said that the church lost much of the ground of people’s hearts when it lost its place for the unfolding of ritual.
We need it, we human folk. We need soul containers that help us to mark the marvels and transitions of our lives. Churches have not lost all ritual. We worship at least weekly, and we continue to mark the moving from one stage of being to another: baptisms, marriages, funerals. What we have not held as sacred stage for soul growth are the “smaller” transitions: starting school, moving from grade school to middle school, puberty, graduations, leaving home, making babies, menopause (both men and women), divorce, and other shifts in our being that are no longer ritually marked in community.
I’m prompted to think about this because of Valentine’s Day. When I was growing up, this was a big deal. We spent time as a family decorating a box for our living room table. In that box went cards for each family member to be opened together at dinner on Valentine’s Day.
The box was promise. For a night, we could let go of the jousting that is living family life. We could be assured of the love that grounded the swirl of our family.
Opening the Valentines was heart-racing good. But preparing for the love exchange by decorating that box and placing it on the family altar was as powerful. We were acknowledging that sharing affection was worthy of care and creativity.
I have time today to indulge in unhurried card browsing. I can get cards out to family far from home, and I’m deciding that I’m going to take the time to create a box for our table because I’m finding that the ritual of sharing love matters to me.
What are the markers in our lives? What are the signs and slowings that remind us of who we are and what it is that we value?
And how do we acknowledge that in the hurry and buzz that is the living of our days, our souls know a deep wisdom: rituals remind, ground, and hold us. Living them in community makes for meaning.
The scissors will feel good. As I cut and create, I’ll be home again.