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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Spirit Ritual

Photo by Laura Bear
I have been re-reading a wonderful book by Marianne Williamson called Everyday Grace. Any trip along the Maine coast always brings spirit very close to the surface for me and I want to carry that sense of communion with me in my daily life.

In Everyday Grace, Williamson talks about the importance of ritual. Not empty ritual, devoid of conscious awareness (that paying attention thing again), but, as Williamson writes, "a commitment of the heart" during ceremony. She writes that "marriage, when placed in a sacred context, is not just a 'piece of paper'" and going to a funeral and saying prayers for the dead and for their loved ones creates a sort of blanket of caring. Or as Williamson calls it, "a field of blessings." Graduations, milestone birthdays, anniversaries, the birth of a child: these are all events that rely on ritual to express great emotion and to mark the importance of the relationships they represent. You don't need to be religious to recognize the importance of spirit in our lives. Even if you don't believe in God, you can't really deny that human beings are designed to be stirred by beauty and to desire love and connection with other people.

Although not all my writing is inspired, I try to approach writing as a spiritual experience. Maybe just with myself, but also, hopefully, with a reader. Many writers have their own rituals for getting ready to write. Granted, sometimes you can get lost in the process and not get to the writing! Some of us get up before sunrise and brew a cup of coffee to drink while writing before work (not me!). Some of us wait until the drama of the day has settled and write in the evening before bed with a cup of tea. Some of us need a stretch of days with few interruptions to get into the meat of the writing. Some of us don't have that luxury and write in quick bursts whenever we have a spare ten minutes. But, most of us have a preferred way to begin: the right spot, certain lighting, visible mementos to decorate our writing space, a special pen or keyboard, a short meditation or a review of notes just before we begin, etc. I always seem to have a cat on my desk, so it's become a part of my process, with the dog at my feet. The ritual, the certain things we do to get us in the right frame of mind, are essential to the process.

Ritual is essential to spiritual awareness. Whether you do it for yourself, or most often, for someone else, the action symbolizes the importance of connection. Back to Williamson again, who says, " a sacred ritual--even something as simple as lighting a prayer candle every morning--can make a tremendous difference in the quality of our lives".

How do you take care of your spirit? I hope very well. Thank you for stopping in.