23rd July 2017
Ritual ~ a sequence of activities involving gestures, words and objects performed in a sequestered manner and performed according to a set sequence.
Receiving first Holy Communion back in 2003 transformed the whole experience of Mass for me. It wasn’t much of the spiritual aspect as it was about how magical and spell binding the whole communion rite was. In that moment; I felt a sense of purpose and belonging. The magic of transubstantiation; the idea of receiving the body and blood Christ; the thought of being cleansed from within and radiating a new sort of aura. I believed in that; lived for it even.
Those quiet moments after receiving sacrament where you’d kneel and whisper your devotion meant everything to me. The peace; the clarity; the euphoria slowly building to a climax. I’d find myself weeping for no reason at all.
Fast forward to 2012 when I began losing touch with my faith; I’d still go for mass; not to receive the sacrament but because the familiarity of the whole ritual brought a sense of belonging; a sense of home. I would walk into St. Paul’s University Chapel at odd hours of the day; to stare in awe at the statue of the Virgin Mary; at the flickering candles, at the Sacristy. In those moments; my body would lose its tension and my mind would teleport to happy places; some sort of bubble that was free from the evils of this world. A lone sail on calm azure waters; slowly drifting away ; feeling the breeze and gentle sun. Freedom!
I no longer ascribe to the dogmas of Christianity in full; I try to find God in the little things around me. In the rising and setting of the sun. In the moon and the millions of stars; in the elements; rain, breeze, shine and gloom. I see God in the earth and plants; in the miracle of birth and life. In the talents, crafts and abilities of those around me. I see God in the innocent laughter of children; in the kindness of strangers; in the eyes of animals. And through this new birth, I have formed my own rituals; rituals of gratitude that bring peace of body and mind. Release.
In my alone; I burn cardamom or lavender incense and brew herbal tea. It has to be black with 3 spoons of sugar; served in a huge ass ceramic mug. Sometimes I put crushed ginger and squeeze in fresh lime; sometimes a squeeze of lemon will do. On other days it’s cinnamon and black pepper; on others it’s peppermint, mint, lemon grass or chamomile. I like to sit cross legged on the floor with my fuzzy socks on, next to the crucible of burning incense, as I sip my tea. It’s my ceremony; an intimate affair. In that first sip of tea; I find my release. I feel all the negative energies of the day leave my being; in comes gratitude for life and all its lessons. In the subsequent sips; I find my happiness, hope and the desire to live yet another day.
On the nights I am angry; I burn a candle by my bedside and stare hard at the flame until all my furry unfurls and there’s nothing left in the pit of my tummy but emptiness. That pleasant calm after a raging storm. Peace.
In my mundane rituals; I find what I seek; the purpose of my life. Sanity.