Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ritual

Rituals seem to dominate much of the world. Most of organized religion lives by rituals. Much of life in 12th century places like Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq are dominated by rituals. Many of these rituals create havoc for the inhabitants of these places. But not all rituals are negative.
I find now, in the twilight of our retirement lives, that rituals are coming to occupy a growing and cherished place in our daily life. Each morning, we awaken at 6:00 AM to the sounds emanating from our clock radio, NPR or BBC informing us that the world is awake and perhaps we should consider joining it again. We stir, and finally crawl out of bed. When it is very warm, as now, we often decide to take our 4.5 mile walk at this early hour, before it is simply too hot for us aging mortals.
The cats join our deliberations, reminding us that they need care. Then there are all the blinds to open, informing the world outside that we are now one with that world.
After they exact their daily ritual feeding, we enter the sultry out-of-doors. But our walk carries quickly to our Greenway, a walking and biking trail carved out of waste land by the city. It is a place with much shade, provided by trees and extraordinary vines climbing everywhere. We walk, but we listen, as the birds begin to call one another—their version, I suppose of twittering or texting—ever so pleasant. We look for the Greenway cat, a sweet little thing that seems to demand attention as walkers pass by.
We return, an hour plus later, sweaty but feeling like we have done something good for ourselves. After showering, we begin another daily ritual, the careful preparation of our cappuccino, and our smoothie. The cappuccinos, when completed, is a work of art, unlike anything at Starbucks. They are tiny by comparison, but wonderfully crafted, and delightful to observe. We click our cups and toast each other—“to us” we say ritually.
Then we move outside with our cups to sit by our pond, toss a handful of food to our growing collection of koi’s, who swarm like piranha’s at a feeding frenzy. Then they slow down as the food disappears, and we sit and watch, and sip our cappuccinos slowly, chatting quietly, watching for critters—a hummer, perhaps, or the dragons flirting with one another. Birds swoop around us to alight at one or another of our several feeders. The birds chirp loudly, singing to one another and to us as they also announce that the sun has risen. We watch as flowers in the pond, the lilies, open in front of our eyes, and the sun begins to cause everything to come alive. We sit, becoming one with our little natural retreat.



As we finish our daily pause, we return to our little house to break our fast with a smoothie and some fresh fruit, a feast coming now from our local farmers, who, thankfully, grow these marvelous and succulent goodies—berries, apples, peaches, plums.
The day has now commenced and we can go about our business of living—Carol quilting, or working with the children in our grandchild’s school, me observing with my camera, or playing with my "artful observing".
At the end of the day, the blinds are drawn closed, to tell the world that we have now withdrawn. We go to sit in our hot tub, to soak, amidst bubbling jets, and to chat about what happened that day. After we are quite relaxed, we don some “night clothes”, pour a glass of wine, and repeat our daily toast, “to us”, we say. Then we go outside to sit again by the pond, to talk with our friends--the birds, the koi’s (they all have names), and occasionally to our little frog, Jeremiah.
As the sun sets behind the trees, we retreat to our little nest on the second floor to dine, and to watch a film before retiring, the rituals ending with a good night, and cuddling before falling asleep.
So, rituals, I conclude are important. They add to the glue that holds this couple fast together after nearly 55 years, amidst all the nonsense the world continues to devise and throw at the world’s inhabitants. The rituals help to deflect the junk dreamed up by the idiots, people like Rupert Murdoch and his merry band of lunatic actors, and the Teabaggers, and the Sarah Barbies and the other racist morons, you know, the power addicts who care not about community, or honest rituals, or love. We ignore all of them.
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