For a gathering of our Ritual Salon in the early fall I wanted to find a way to get in touch with the season. Traditionally the fall is a time of celebrating the harvest: honoring seeds sown earlier in the year and reaping the growth that has taken place. This harvest time also leads us into the celebration of gratitude in the U.S. on Thanksgiving. But to offer our gratitude we must take the time to recognize where there is abundance in our lives.
A poignant example of this happened when I went apple picking and was dumbfounded when I saw how many apples were lying on the ground around each tree even after loads of people had already tromped through the orchards filling their bags to the point of bursting. And yet there were still many apples around the bases of all the trees. I was overwhelmed by just how much is produced in this one orchard alone. Many of us are far removed from witnessing nature’s abundance in that kind of natural setting. But if we take a moment to consider our grocery stores, we are witness to it. Just think of the piles of fruits and vegetables you see there along with all the packaged foods!
As I thought more about connecting with the season, I looked for a way that our small group could have our own harvest. I decided that we could take some intentional time to “reap” our memories of the past year, focusing on those where we felt and/or saw abundance. I invited the group to participate in a Reflection Harvest.
Our ritual took place around the fall equinox when there is a balance of light and dark. So another consideration was how we might balance what we take from Mother Earth and what we give back to her. Traditionally the first pickings of food gathered in the harvest were left in the field or, after a wheat harvest, the first loaf of bread baked from that wheat was placed in the fields as an offering.
After we reflected and shared our own stories of abundance and fullness, we talked about what we could do as a gesture of balance. I felt strongly that it needed to be an actual action and not just an internal exercise of intention or praying for balance in the world. There is power in physically embodying principles. So we decided to collect some money and make a donation to an organization. Three organizations were suggested and we voted on which would receive our donation.
Reflection Harvest Ritual
“We are going to listen to some music and while it plays for about five minutes, think back over the past year and look for and try to remember areas of abundance or fullness in your life — not just in terms of money or possessions but of times or experiences where you felt rich and full, where you could see generosity and bounty. What grew in positive ways for you this year — your romantic life or relationship, your position in your professional life? Other areas to possibly glean from: self-care and health; socializing and friends; your heart and openness; family; anywhere that resonates with abundance for you. Then distill it down to one or two examples you are comfortable sharing with the group.”
(Music plays. Leader has a ball of yarn.)
“Now we’ll go around the circle and offer our stories of abundance with each other. As with the forgiveness ritual, we will be connecting ourselves with this yarn as we share to symbolize how we are all connected, that your abundance is my abundance. As you tell your story, wrap the yarn around your wrist as many times as feels comfortable and when you are done speaking, toss the ball to someone else across from you. As each person does this a web is created connecting us all.”
(Everyone shares and a rainbow web is formed connecting us.)
“We acknowledge and recognize that we share this world together and that my abundance is your abundance, and so we celebrate it in unity. And as we acknowledge this abundance in our lives and in each other we wish to also give to others beyond these walls, emulating the principle of balance in this season of giving and receiving. As the basket is passed, please place your donation inside. All the money will be donated to The Trevor Project as agreed upon.”
It was lovely to hear everyone’s experience and perspectives of abundance in their lives. There was real joy in sharing in each other’s stories. And as a keepsake of the ritual, when the yarn was cut from our wrists, everyone made a personal bracelet with the pieces.
As I wrote this, I realized that although our ritual took place during the fall, this is also a great ritual for New Year's Eve or Day. It’s similar to my “Good Things Jar” but done in community. And what a great way to start the year, reflecting on the abundance in your life through a shared experience and then giving back in some way.
Here’s to a year of shared abundance!