Friday, January 29, 2010

30 Days of Touching

Day 22: Rituals of Love

What comes to mind when you think of the rituals of your life? Do you tend to think of things that are boring, rote and meaningless? David and I were just talking at dinner about the beauty of rituals—ones that have been part of our lives over the years.

For him today, it’s the ritual of cleaning his paintbrushes after his has “played with paint” (created art). He has this way of doing it—filling the brushes with soap and then rubbing them in the palm of his hand to get the paint out.

That triggered a memory for me of when I would practice my French horn. (I was a French horn major at IU—for those who didn’t know.) I would lift my horn out of the case; place a piece of lederhosen on my knee and set the bell on top; put the mouthpiece in my mouth to warm in; insert the mouthpiece into the horn and blow warm air through it. I can almost smell the valve oil and musty brass as I remember it.

We have morning rituals that we’ve practiced for years: David makes the coffee, usually the night before. He wakes up first, goes down, gets it for us, and brings it to me in bed. I sit for a while in bed, waking up slowing while sipping it. We both read, journal and pray. Then at breakfast, we talk about our thoughts and experiences.

We have evening rituals, too. We head to bed about ten—sometimes earlier. After we brush our teeth and I wash my face, we crawl into bed, side by side and read. At night, we usually read novels. Once we get sleepy, we turn out the lights and spoon.

Last night we babysat Eli at Brandt and Laura’s. Even Eli has a bedtime ritual at four ½ months. After a bottle, diaper change and cuddling, I read him a book and sang him a song. He lay down, cried for a little bit and was soon fast asleep.

I think rituals are ways we keep in touch with the world and keep in minds that we are still connected to it. Rituals are tactile reenactments that remind us of what matters, what we love. The things that keep us tethered to each other are the rituals we go through each day.

What are your rituals, those daily or occasional rhythms that reinforce the patterns of your life, patterns of what matters to you? Do you practice your rituals with awareness? What do your rituals say about you?

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