When some people hear the word "ritual," what they often think of is some sort of religious ceremony, performed in a sanctuary. But rituals can also be an everyday thing, which can be intentionally created as moments of being intentionally mindful of the sacredness and wonder of life. Little rituals, created with sacred intent, can make the difference between mindlessly going through the motions of a day, and living a day with heart open to the Divine Presence that is always there.
One of John's and my favorite rituals while we are here in Michigan, is to have a little bowl of ice cream as we sit on the deck swing watching the sunset over Lake Michigan. Above us in the wild cherry tree that shades the swing, birds are singing. Very soon, our summer lilacs which line the back of the lower deck will be perfuming the air with their heady fragrance. Below us on the beach, people wander down the public beach stairs to watch the evening show of the sun going down into the water. Dogs and children run and play on the beach and in the water.
Often we sit in silence, just watching, listening, smelling, feeling the evening breeze, and feeling very glad to be together and to be alive in a beautiful place like this. Our hearts fill with peace and gratitude. We tune in to the countless people who have sensed the sacredness of sunset, and always taken time to pray, to watch, to rejoice at the end of another day.
Another little ritual I love is to go out in the late afternoon into what I call my secret garden in a little nook outside behind the kitchen. I have hung a string of prayer flags there, and as I sit in my chair sipping tea, and looking through the leafy branches of the trees that shade the garden on to the shimmering Lake, my prayer flags waft my prayers into the Heart of God, and I feel my unity with Buddhists all over the world who hang prayer flags, and believe that they are carrying their prayers to heaven even when they are busy with the labor of their lives and perhaps not remembering to pray. I like that idea. Its another way of practising what St. Paul calls "Prayer without ceasing."
You perhaps already have little rituals too, some of which you are aware of, some of which you may not be. I invite you to consider how intentionally doing little rituals like these can expand your awareness of The Presence of God in your everyday life.