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JUST US seeking the Common Good: Rituals

Come whenever you need to … let this place be what feeds you. Anna Strickland

I wonder what comes to mind when you take a minute to breathe and reflect on this quote?

Delicious aromas wafting from the oven? Some place that is peaceful or renewing? Whether by food or place, there are many ways to be fed and nurturing often comes with ritual, whether we plan it that way or not.

As a single parent, I tried to keep our established patterns, aka rituals. Like sitting down to dinner together every evening. Time at the table was often brief. Sometimes the meal was cold cereal! But for whatever time we could manage, we were together at a routine time.

I didn’t appreciate the importance of our dinners or that I was building a ritual, until I heard it through the lens of a seven year old. The little boy down the street enjoyed playing at our home, which often ran over into dinner hour. So, he would join us at the table and share in our meal. I assumed he was just hungry until his mom mentioned how much he enjoyed that we always had dinner together, an event that occurred only on rare occasions in his household. Turns out he was hungry for more than food. What felt to me like a chore, an often exhausting duty to get kids to the table while food was hot or before cereal got soggy, was nonetheless a ritual we could count on even amid arguing, pinching, and spills.

Rituals are not always tidy. They are not always welcomed in the moment. But they become something to count on, to return to when life is chaotic and nurturing is needed. Rituals can be a place to return to whenever you need the assurance of belonging and awareness of something greater than ourselves.

My rituals span from simple ones that are habits, like the way I wash my face or load the dishwasher (some call that ‘type A’), to those I have practiced with intention. Rituals like morning contemplation, writing, Sunday worship, devotion reading before bed. I don’t always want to roll out of bed in the dark of morning for prayer, but I choose to. I don’t always agree with the readings at the end of the day but the ritual connects me with my mother who gifted me the devotional over 35 years ago when I moved from home, and with my siblings who read it, too. Some rituals are far more simple but no less intentional, like pausing to watch a moody sky or absorb the curiosity of a toddler. I have found that rituals help me notice what is greater both within and beyond myself.

I wonder what rituals feed you … or what new ones you might practice in the coming year? I’d love to hear what you notice.

In this together, Amy

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