The Power of Rituals
Rituals are small, meaningful acts that mark transitions and bind people together. Religions are thick with ritual, but secular society has relatively few left, says New York Times columnist David Brooks.
But for the extravagant exceptions of weddings, bar mitzvahs, and quinceañeras, says Brooks, daily life goes unremarked. We lack the means to note and celebrate “doorway moments”—like when a new family moves onto a street, when the kids in a blended family move in together, or when we leave behind a house filled with memories.
Rituals provide comfort because they remind us we’re not alone as we proceed through life. Symbolically, they can involve burying something (confronting loss), burning something (sacrifice), passing something around (creating community), anointing something (purification), putting something on (embracing a new role). They express things beyond words and force a pause in life’s hectic pace. (Click to Tweet!)
Brooks says we need more personal rituals and also more collective ones. In 1620, colonists formed the Mayflower Compact, in which they publicly vowed to “combine ourselves into a civil body politic.” Maybe, he suggests, “neighborhoods and towns could come together to make town compacts. They would vow to be a community together and lay out the specific projects they are going to do together to address a challenge they face.”
Rituals can help us make promises to each other and be inspired to keep them, to define life’s phases, and…to throw some fun parties. As Brooks asks, why deprive ourselves?
What rituals have been particularly meaningful for you? Can you think of a life transition, community event, or work event for which you would like to create a new ritual?
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6/4/2019 10:24:33 am
At this time, as 80 year olds we are creating a ritual of moving from a large home to a lovely, small new home. We are making a ritual of letting go of "things" but not memories. We light candles every evening as part of our "keeping some things the same" ritual.
6/4/2019 11:05:18 am
We applaud the way you use rituals to link the important phases in your life. Moving on to the new while cherishing those meaningful memories in the past seems an important way to mark those times. Thanks for sharing with the community.
6/4/2019 09:41:31 pm
Bible study with other men. When I attend, my life is easily more grounded.
6/5/2019 09:31:20 am
Another important example of how rituals make a difference. Thanks Greg
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