*Brian K. Wilcox. 'a place for two (no. 1)'. Flickr
Buying an ice cream cone can be a very deep ritual.
Dainin Katagiri. Returning to Silence.
A bank teller spoke with me recently about coffee. She likes coffee. I like coffee. We like coffee. Her mother likes coffee, too. Her mother likes one particular brand of coffee from one particular place in town. The teller told me her mother travels each morning to that one place for that one particular brand of coffee.
Reflecting on this, I thought of this mother doing this as ritual. This gives structure to her life and more, joy. I imagine her each morning looking forward to her coffee, ordering it, the taste, the texture, the warmth, and the feel and handling of whatever she drinks her coffee from. Embodied, earthy ritual. This reminds me, "And the Word took on flesh," from the Gospel of John. Could the Word manifests in the joy of drinking coffee for this mother?
This somewhat like the late theologian Paul Tillich taught in saying faith is whatever we give ultimate meaning to. Ritual can be any act, any participation, whereby we sense meaning, even buying the same coffee from the same place daily. Or, as Dainin Katagiri observes, buying an ice cream. I assume he means more than buying it, the more also eating it.
So, ritual can be of a religion and, if not, can still be religious, meaning connecting us to the universal Life we share in together. Religion, after all, means "to rejoin, reconnect."
Who can say that dear one having a ritual of coffee each morning is any less significant to her than the person who attends Eucharist? And could it be Eucharist for her is the embodiment of Grace in the rite of coffee? Could it be rituals are reminders any act wholeheartedly engaged can be, if we choose, a deep, meaningful way to enjoy and commune with Life?
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Today, I attended a Quaker Meeting. It is unprogrammed. We sat together in Silence. No speaker. No audible prayers. No songs. Somewhat like a group of Buddhists sitting in zazen, or sitting meditation, but not quite the same, after all, Quakerism is not Buddhism. Yet, sitting quietly, reverently, receptively can be an important ritual. The feel of the body sitting itself is part of that ritual, as well as the sight of others sitting quietly and listening to ones who sense guidance to share what they are receiving through listening in the Silence. And, for me, the entire trip, the Meeting itself, and the sharing on the way there and back home with a new acquaintance, all that was worship, was ritual, a holy communion, was a means to connect with the Word becoming flesh.
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And we may discover an even-deeper experience of ritual than most of us have been taught possible. That I am sharing in a ritual dissolves in simply the ritual happening, with no one doing it, self and the act one acting together. This means, one can be drawn through the ritual to below the ritual. And is this not what rituals, in religion or otherwise, are intended to do, anyway?
*Brian K. Wilcox. 'a place for two (no. 2)'. Flickr
(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019