In college, I think we relish in destroying or rebelling against societies prescribed rituals for life. I know I did, and to be quiet honest, sometimes I still do. But there is so much comfort in a ritual. I know that is why I liked the Catholic church so much. There is something comforting in knowing what to expect. There is something comforting in knowing you cant possibly screw something up.
Humans create rituals for funerals, weddings, superstitions, mundane acts like making tea, or even sex. Is the need for rituals just another congenital trait? A reflex? The Egyptians had so many rituals regarding death. They mummified their dead, buried them with their possessions, pets and loved ones.
When someone dies tragically, people will make up memorials on roadsides with flowers, teddy bears, letters…and why? Because it gives us comfort, it makes us feel better, feel connected.
I know that is one of the things I loved about being pagan. The rituals were beautiful, I had an altar with crystals and flowers, beautiful trinkets and rose petals. It all evoked a sense of connectivity with something greater than humanity, with the earth, and with myself. I know that in the Native American tradition, smoke plays a great role in cleansing, rebirth, connecting with spirits and the dead. The Vikings would send out their dead on funeral pyres.
Why do I love rituals so much? The comfort? The connecting? The fact that I feel so disconnected and when something bad happens, that primal need to connect is exacerbated? I feel a little out of place because I crave a ritual to feel more connected to God. But what? Some Christians I know use prayer boxes. They are little boxes that you wear as jewelry that open, a place for a tiny prayer. Or they have a prayer drawer. Now, obviously this isn’t for God….Uhm hey Jesus, can you check the drawer in the kitchen, the one on the left? Yes, yes that’s the one, the one with the scissors and the dogs heartworm pills….yes, just lift up the electric bill and you will find a stack of prayers to answer, got that? Oh yes, thank you…
But again, there is something comforting about feeling connected, actively feeling connected to God. Thank God he doesn’t need to dig through my crap to find my prayers, even He would never be able to find anything I am sure. LOL
Even Jesus endorsed/created rituals, think baptism and communion. Sacraments instituted by Christ himself. Why? Because I think God knows our human need for a ritual. I mean, do we really need to eat bread and drink grape juice to “remember” Jesus? Do we? Maybe not, per se, but I think we DO to feel connected. Not every time, not all the time, but sometimes the need is there.
Praying the rosary and going on pilgrimages are other Christian rituals. I admit, I still pray the rosary. I did even when I was a pagan. Why? It made me relax, feel connected, feel safe, feel understood, feel like there is no way to mess this up…feel comforted. Why pilgrimages? Its something all sorts of people from all sorts of religions do. Why make a pilgrimage across the world? Because it makes us feel connected to God. It makes us feel like we are actively participating in something bigger than ourselves.