“Ritual practice is the activity of cultivating extraordinary ordinariness.” ~ Ronald L. Grimes
This is the bench where I sat while I contemplated the day, the seasons, nature, my life, the world, even the boundlessness of the universe. I was restless. Untethered. Once again I was facing changes – changing seasons, changes in responsibilities, changes in my business.
It was a time of fruition and celebration, and it also was a time of saying goodbye, letting go, even a bit of grieving.
Realizing this is a common reaction to change — joy coupled with letting go — I sat in solitude and let my mind wander. I decided to create a ritual to recognize both celebration and closure.
I paid close attention to my surroundings.
The prairie grasses were browning, flowers had set seed. The apple trees were over laden with ripened fruit, and many of the apples had dropped onto the earth and begun to rot. Cracked walnuts were along the paths. And still there was evidence of bustling life all around me. Geese were flying in formation, back and forth from their feeding grounds, the harvested cornfields. The late autumn flowers of the prairie spared from the last frost — showy goldenrod, purple asters, daisy fleabane — still blossomed in protected areas,
I searched for a ritual, one that offered a feeling of comfort and acceptance, one that said goodbye while also looking forward.
What could I use as a guide? What would be in a transitioning ritual, in a healing place?
- the night sky, dark, abundant with stars
- open spaces, open minds
- spiritual spaces, resting spaces, thinking places
- a container that contained my curiosities, my questions, my collections
- quiet, slow, peaceful
- folk art, expressive art, art that tells a story, art that has heart
- kindnesses and little gifts (When traveling it is customary to bring tiny gifts in exchange for kindnesses received along the path and to those who share their stories.)
- a place in nature, ecological, in balance
- a place my great-grandmother would have loved
The last thought — a place my great-grandmother would have loved — helped provide the answer to my longings.
I thought of the many things I’d learned from my great-grandmother when I was a child, of the many things she’d loved. I thought of the changing seasons, of the routines we had made extraordinary in their repetition, chores we did with love and respect and companionship.
We gathered the last of the harvest from the vegetable garden, cleaned and cut the vegetables, and made huge pots of vegetable soup with my grandfather’s help.
We made dough, rolled it out, and cut the dough into long noodles. We dried herbs on racks in the pantry. We raked the garden and added to our compost pile. We pulled the quilts and blankets out of storage, and draped them over several back yard clothes lines to air in the breeze.
We adapted our evening rituals to the sun’s earlier setting.
Instead of sitting on the porch after supper and chatting with passing neighbors, we set up a table in the kitchen for puzzles and games. We fell into a simple routine of cleaning the kitchen, then playing games of Parcheesi or Pokeno. We took an evening walk around the outside of the house just before bedtime, making sure all was tidy while admiring the starlit skies.
So much love and care and honor went into these simple actions. Home and hearth. Routines and rituals – all good for the soul.
Do you long for a way to honor the changing seasons, for the ordinary turned extraordinary by the practice of ritual?
Today I jotted down a few reminders – ways to prepare for the changing season, routines to ease the change from busy day to rejuvenating evening, rituals to remind me of the sacredness in the ordinary. Simple actions – gardening, cooking, preparation for winter.
What might you add or subtract from your day in honor of the ordinary, the sacred?
This post was adapted from one published on another autumn day just over a year ago.