Vision: 3 Other R’s by Howard Hanger

August 23, 2017 |

OK, quickly: how many words can you think of which rhyme with “ritual?” Come on, now, you can do it.  No… “mutual” won’t work.  Nor will eventual, casual, perpetual, factual, actual, conceptual, pansexual or consensual.  All of those are ineffectual, thank you very much; though a consensual pansexual does sound intriguing.

One (maybe the only) word which rhymes with “ritual” is “habitual.”  Funny, that.  Ritual is, indeed, something we do habitually. (At least far more than consensual pansexuality.)  (Unless you’re from Asheville.)  Be that as it may, the poetic association of ritual and habitual is – at least – cute.

If ritual is habitual, then you might call it, “routine.”  Routine is a custom, a habit, a schedule.  You can have a routine for the way you fix and drink your coffee in the morning or for the way you put on your jammies and brush your teeth at night.  Same, each morning.  Same, each night. You can have a routine for the times you check your Emails or the times you eat lunch or watch the news or take a poop.  And some of these routines offer a sense of stability and security.  Some of these routines can get you in a rut.  And some of these routines might just be your own ritual.

Rituals are something we humans have practiced probably since the day we slithered out of the slime.  Rituals are what we humans have used to connect ourselves with ourselves and to make connections with the world around us – the seen and the unseen.  Nor are rituals the exclusive property of religion.   Birthday or anniversary celebrations, vacations, love-making, reading to the kids, good-night kisses, going bowling with the buddies, toasting the sunset, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Christmas… they can all be rituals.

“The function of ritual,” writes Joseph Campbell in Myths To Live By “is to give form to the human life, not in the way of a mere surface arrangement, but in depth.” Ritual offers a grounding and underpinning.  Ritual grows our human roots deeply into the soil, the muck, the rocks and underground streams of mystical, sociological and psychological worlds.  Ritual’s roots often intertwine with other – sometimes ancient – roots.  Roots which are still abundant and fertile.  Ritual reminds us of the profundity and the fun-ditty of being fully alive.

There is an art to ritual.  A skill, talent or at least a knack is required for good ritual to happen.  The correct number of candles need to be put on the cake (unless you’re Medicare age which may require a burning permit) so they can be properly blown out if you’re to have an honest-to-God birthday celebration. Good-night kisses must be on the mouth for certain ones, and on cheek and forehead for certain others.  There must be a Seder plate on the table and glass of wine for Elijah if it’s a real Passover.  And a Christmas celebration without singing “Silent Night,” is just plain wrong.

Every Sunday at JUBILEE! we celebrate with ritual.  Some parts of the ritual are habitual.  Calling the Four Directions, passing the peace, reading the scriptures, dedicating our gifts and singing.  Lots of singing.  Our Sunday morning ritual celebrations are very participatory.  About 90% of the time, everyone is invited to join in one way or another.  And most of us do.  There are always a few introverts or grumpy old farts who sit it all out.  But they are the exception.  Our celebrations really are like a party.  And everyone knows that one sign of good party is when everyone is involved.

So, you got your rituals, your routines and your ruts.  We’ve all got them.  One connects you.  One comforts you.  One confines you. It’s often a fuzzy line which separates them; but on Sunday morning we try our best not to let the ritual become routine and then slip into a rut. That’s why we invite you to offer poems, songs, dances, visuals, skits.  You Jubilants are what keep ritual alive and well.

But then, when it comes to your life…  Ritual, routine, rut?  What’ll it be, Sweetcakes?