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Ritual

From the time I awaken in the morning (most days before the crow of the rooster) I focus on my ritual. I envision life in ritual structure, a set form for the performance of divine creativity. Many people experience their own lives as a variety of common, everyday routines – a connected sequence that passes the time away. I believe that time is our most precious commodity in living our personal adventure. One day I will dedicate a series of blog posts to time, but this is not one of them.

I pose hundreds of related questions to people who come for healing every day. Not surprisingly, I get hundreds of different answers from our diverse population. It never ceases to amaze me that people, by and large, have such unique worldviews. Most have never had a ritual to live within or even considered it important. Some once had a ritual that kept them alive, but somewhere along their path; it was discarded because they had so little time to devote to it. Life happens to people and they react. Sometimes the reaction is so severe that they lose their ability to stay in the ritual, to embrace their lives in a transcendent way. Every encounter becomes a mundane episode of chopping wood or fetching water. Not to mention, that they have packed their lives so full of unnecessary responsibilities that they get lost in their untamed overgrown jungle of life. When they finish their sentences about the hopelessness of their life, they firmly speak about wanting to regain their lost ritual. The question remains, "How?"

When I played college football, I had a head coach who was also the offensive coordinator. For those who do not understand football, the offensive coordinator designs and executes the offensive strategy for the team. Yes, there is a strategy in the game of football; in fact, there are numerous strategies within the game itself. My coach was an ex-Marine, but he wasn't a typical ex-Marine. He was an extremely reflective man, a philosopher about life. I vividly remember a time when he was in the locker room after practice conferring with a running back about his practice performance that afternoon. "Son," he said in a calm and consoling voice, "You've got to run faster, or our offense will not work." The running back was a bit surprised, since he thought he was doing a great job. He responded, "Coach, faster? How can I run faster?" The coach paused in reflection and sincerely replied, "Son, the only way to run faster, is to run faster." Then he smiled, and walked away. The running back looked at me, as if I had some understanding of the world and said, "What the hell does that mean?" I laughed and replied, "You need to run faster." We laughed, showered and went to team supper. That running back was pulled from first string because he never ran faster. He did not play much that season, and instead of working on his speed in the off-season, he called it quits for his senior year. The coach's wisdom still rings in my head, "The only way to run faster is to run faster."

When people ask me how to live by a ritual, I reply, "The only way to live by a ritual is to live by a ritual. It's up to you what that ritual is."

We all struggle to find meaning in our lives. Some of us actually search for purpose -- as if purpose is a mystery that needs to be discovered. Some elevate the absurd to something of a divine dimension, especially if they believe that the absurdity is unique to their personal situation. Illness is one of those episodes in our lives that have the capacity to wrench us out of our current involvements and force us to reflect on our lives. This also happens when someone we deeply love, perhaps someone our very existence is rooted in, dies and leaves us alone in the physical realm with our emotional roots exposed to the cold painful reality of their death. Without ritual, we suffer greatly.

Our ritual helps us to find and maintain the circumstances of creativity; then we can more easily manufacture our authentic healthy self, rather than focus on life's meaning associated with the everyday duty that befalls us. I believe each of us should live our rituals to their fullest, sacrificing all unimportant matters in order to strengthen our personal will. Strength of will provides vitality to our rituals, it gives them depth.

Some members of our community have the good fortune to possess abundant financial resources. Yet, it has been my experience that they tend to lack rituals for living. Comfort and convenience seem to be their mantra as they let time pass by them, not through them. The community members that appear to live a more Spartan life, most in part because of their lack of financial resources, seem to have accepted a more basic level of comfort. These members tend to embrace ritualistic living, perhaps as a way to influence their grand creative vision. Many are all about the work, in and of itself.

So, arise in the morning from slumber, and thank the morning for arriving. Greet it as if the morning is one of your deepest and closest friends. Step out of the bed and melt into your ritual; do not be distracted by the rituals of others. Perform each duty with pride and transcendence; give it your undivided attention, and complete it, before you move on to the next one. Make sure you finely tune your ritual to take advantage of your most precious resource: time. Remember that self-discipline without Joy is mere suffering, and try to remove all insignificant affairs in order to regain and maintain efficiency. Then and only then will you be on your way to the construction of structures for the celebration of divine creativity.

The only way to run faster is to do the work necessary to run faster. All else is unimportant. Make no excuses.

Doc
Posted by Katie Reed at 11:43 AM
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