Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ritual, Festival and Rhythm

Last weekend here in America, we celebrated Independence Day. I think it's a fair assumption to say that this is probably our biggest holiday of the year next to Christmas. What does this celebration look like? Fireworks, festivals, time with family and friends, good food, wearing lots of red, white and blue...

Boys and trucks...what is the fascination?

These celebrations tend to be the same across the country, and they don't really change much from year to year. I've attended the same small town festival each July 4th for as long as I can remember. In the past, I might have lauded this as an exceedingly dull way to spend a holiday, citing a need for adventure and questioning doing something again that I've already done once, or multiple times, before.

And as our annual trip to the Isle of Palms approaches, I'm reminded of a commercial I saw recently stating that 85% of Americans, when traveling, go to the same places they've been before. The commercial presented this as a negative, implying 85% of the population lack the gumption to try  someplace new. I'm inclined, however, to disagree with that logic.

I believe it's the ritual of attending a place that draws us back time and time again. For my son and I, our trip to IOP each August marks the end of our summer. It's a sacred, special time, and because we've visited there so often, has now become our home-away-from-home. Going there is a given; something we know we can rely on. And while we do travel to other places (a trip to Colonial Williamsburg is being tossed about at the moment!) I always budget an August week at IOP into our summer travel plans.

I'm sure I've used this pic on the blog before, but it's so sweet I can't resist using it again.
Ritual is rhythm, and rhythm is important. Whether the ritual is big - like a yearly sojourn to the coast - or small - like rising early for my morning yoga practice followed by coffee on the patio - it becomes a source of strength. In The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker, Manfred Schimdt-Brabant states, "Nature determines the rhythmic forming of time sequences. Nature takes the human being through the seasons....for by rhythmically repeating an activity, one creates a kind of platform in the etheric element...and one day will be able to throw one's glance into the spiritual world from this place." In other words, "Rhythm is strength."

Festivals and festival/feast days often mark the seasons, too. Most of the festivals we attend locally are centered around spring, summer, autumn and the Christmas holidays, following the rhythms of nature and faith. But what I find more important are the small rituals we practice daily and/or weekly in the home, such as weekend bread baking...


Jewish Braided Challah Bread, my son's favorite!
...or seasonal rituals, such as summer corn-shucking parties...

Your resident blogger, preparing all that homegrown, organic corn for safekeeping...
Ritual is rhythm, and rhythm is strength. Just as we look to the sky for the first scurry of leaves that signal Autumn's chill will soon be in the air, we can look to our own daily, monthly and yearly rhythms to find the flow and balance within our family life. It sets the tone, and in an unpredictable world, gives a sense of safety and security.While monotony can become dull, rhythm, when understood, becomes an essential part of well-being in the home and daily life.

I'll be finishing up part two of the post Hard Lessons from (or for?) an Elder Artist sometime this week, and following up today's topic with a post titled The Rhythm - and yes, the Joy - of Housekeeping. Now it's time to go start on some Challah bread. Because we are primarily vegan, I can only make this when I've had a delivery of eggs from my friends who keep flocks of happy hens!

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