Have you ever invented a ritual to celebrate a special moment in your family or social group?
Rituals and celebrations figure centrally in communal life. They add meaning and purpose to major live events, help us embrace change, allow us to express important emotions, help build community, and enhance our connections with the sacred.
Birthday Cakes as Ritual Food
In this second Spirit of Life workshop, we also learned to appreciate the role of rituals, sharing some which touched us deeply. Birthdays and weddings ranked high in the list of favorite rituals and celebrations. Sharing special foods can be a part of a ritual–and indeed, Sheryl Southwick noted that she gets special requests for her birthday cakes (rumored to be out of this world). Partaking of the same food, whether cake or plain bread, creates a sense of unity in a group.
Rituals need not be etched in stone. We can design them to fulfill our own deep, spiritual longings. Sometimes we find ourselves inventing rituals to mark important transitions. For example, Bo Earnest described his sense that some kind of ritual was needed to welcome his future son-in-law into the family—creating his own “Boar Clan” initiation ceremony, complete with pine branch. What a way to mark a special moment!
A Ritual to Affirm Acceptance of One Another
These Adult Enrichment workshops (or classes) include both discussion and action elements. In this instance, the group was invited to create its own ritual to affirm the second UU principle, “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.” If you peeked in the sanctuary around 12:45, you would have seen us all encircling a chalice, holding hands, murmuring “Om,” and concluding with a bow and “Namaste” to one another. You would also have noticed heartfelt smiles all around.
What amazed me as facilitator was how quickly this group of nine pulled together significant elements of a ritual to create a seamless, moving moment that embodied the principle perfectly. Imagine such a ritual during our services or at Board meetings!
For Further Contemplation and Sharing
What are some of your favorite celebrations or rituals? Which UU rituals speak to you? And what rituals might you create to mark special moments in life to address your spiritual longings? Share them with us here or during coffee hour–one of my favorite UU rituals.
Recommended Resource: The Art of Ritual: Creating and Performing Ceremonies for Growth and Change.
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