Ritual. When you read or hear that word, what does it conjure up for you? For me the word recalls Sundays in the Catholic church of my adolescence with candles and incense and Latin. But not just the rituals of that formal setting. I also think of all the informal rituals I've been performing all my life: dancing alone in my room as a teenager as a literal escape from bullying, the morning practices of my adult years (journaling, prayer beads, yoga), my sometimes over-the-top holiday decorating, the little daily rituals I share with my cats.
Ritual plays many roles in modern life. In December 2013 the Harvard Business Review Blog Network published an article about new research that shows "rituals make us value things more." Barbara Biziou, known as the "Ritual Lady," says she "began creating rituals with the purpose of transforming everyday events into sacred moments" and defines ritual in her book The Joy of Ritual as "an act in which we literally join the metaphysical with the physical as a means of calling Spirit into our material lives." I've been fortunate to experience Barbara's teachings in person at my seminary. She has helped me to see how powerful simple rituals can be; they don't have to be complicated with lots of props and prayers and accoutrements. When you start with attention and intention just lighting a candle can be a very powerful ritual.
I feel very fortunate that I've been exposed to rituals and have allowed them to be so prominent in my life, but I still find myself yearning for more. When I looked around my circles of friends, I realized that many life changes/situations/rites of passage weren't being acknowledged and honored that were perfect for rituals. I also noticed a trend: many of us wanted to belong to a community only to find that most interactions take place through social media rather than in-person. I wanted to connect with others in real time, in real presence through ritual and community. So I started a monthly Ritual Salon.
The Ritual Salon is a laboratory where about ten friends and I explore creating rituals, do one together, and discuss its impact over a potluck dinner. My hope for this blog is what I hope for the salon, that it provides a space for sharing about rituals and how we can bring them more fully into our daily lives. I'd like to help ease any hang-ups you might have about doing rituals. Ultimately I hope you'll come to this space for ideas so you will engage in rituals on your own with family and friends.