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Investing in ritual

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

When we are in the midst of a challenging time, reminding ourselves of miracles feels impossible, if not even a bit inappropriate, because when we are walking through suffering ourselves or with others, we don’t know how it’s going to turn out. We are surrounded by pain and hurt and sometimes evil and the miracle isn’t always obvious and it isn’t always ours.


How then do we keep ourselves turning towards God in times of suffering? How do we hold on to the feeling of wonder even when all we can see around us is darkness?


Many of the spiritual disciplines, which help to draw us closer to God, fall under the category of ritual, which is something that I often think about at this time of year when we collectively engage in many (often-not-very-spiritual) rituals. But rituals, especially those that we do with others and that are based in faith and love, keep us rooted to what’s important. They keep us connected to one another and to God so that this time that is so precious, even though it might also be so hard, doesn’t just slip past us. Rituals prevent us from just floating through our lives and looking back afterwards with a mix of indistinguishable memories, or perhaps worse, a feeling that all we knew was suffering.


I recently asked my daughter which of our family rituals was her favorite. She promptly replied, “watching shows.”


I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, and I thought, okay, this is okay. I can give myself a little bit of grace right now, because this has been a crazy few months. I shared her response with my partner and we laughed together. Of course, then I also proceeded to spend this past weekend cleaning the whole house, getting a bunch