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A Monday meander: Rituals

At the pump.

While we have much to learn from indigenous cultures about forms of rituals and how ritual works, we cannot simply adopt their rituals and settle them neatly onto our psyches. It is important that we listen deeply, once again, to the dreaming earth and craft rituals that are indigenous to us, that reflect our unique patterns of wounding and disconnection from the land. These rituals will have the potency to mend what has been torn, heal what has been neglected. This is one way that we may return to the land and offer our deepest amends to those we have harmed.

~ Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

At the core of this grief is our longing to belong. This longing is wired into us by necessity. It assures our safety and our ability to extend out into the world with confidence. This feeling of belonging is rooted in the village and, at times, in extended families. It was in this setting that we emerged as a species. It was in this setting that what we require to become fully human was established. Jean Liedloff writes, “the design of each individual was a reflection of the experience it expected to encounter.” We are designed to receive touch, to hear sounds and words entering our ears that soothe and comfort. We are shaped for closeness and for intimacy with our surroundings. Our profound feelings of lacking something are not reflection of personal failure, but the reflection of a society that has failed to offer us what we were designed to expect. Liedloff concludes, “what was once man’s confident expectations for suitable treatment and surroundings is now so frustrated that a person often thinks himself lucky if he is not actually homeless or in pain. But even as he is saying, ‘I am all right,’ there is in him a sense of loss, a longing for something he cannot name, a feeling of being off-center, of missing something. Asked point blank, he will seldom deny it.

~ Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

The original.

It’s hard to believe another week has passed.  I don’t know why I think it’s hard to believe.  Time has certainly been moving at high speed lately.  And yet, there are times when it doesn’t.  The next ten days or so might be like that.  We are in a form of isolation again.  I’m not sure if we’ll stay this way for the full ten or fourteen days.  That remains to be seen.

On a dewy morning.

The kids (adults and grandsons) attended a birthday party on Saturday.  There was much discussion about it and in the end, we all decided on a plan of action that suits the needs of all.  The birthday party was for a cousin of Little Wookie and Little Peanut.  I don’t know when they last saw their cousins, but it’s been months, I think.  While I don’t like missing out on time with the boys since our time is limited (isn’t it always?… we forget that, don’t we?), I believe that going to the birthday party was the right thing for them to do.  The Little Peanut, who is only two years old, might not be missing out on that kind of socializing.  His world still revolves around his mother and father, for the most part.  However, the Little Wookie does appear to missing it and I think being able to play with his cousins on Saturday afternoon accomplished several things, the most important of which is proof that his cousins and aunts and uncles haven’t left him for good.

I often wonder what this strange time and experience means to a four-year-old.  What will it mean to him later in life?  Is this a form of trauma for the young?

Droplets on grass.

As for our isolation, it’s not a complete isolation since we haven’t been exposed (that we know of) and no one we know has been exposed (that we know of).  We did stop by to see the kids (adults and littles) yesterday, once in the morning and again after dinner.  We met outside, maintained distance, put on our masks when we weren’t distancing (the two-year-old doesn’t quite understand distancing), and although I miss the closeness, the hugs, and the kisses, we managed.  When I first saw the Little Wookie, I wrapped my arms around myself, instructed him to do the same, and told him to consider that a hug from me.  I also reminded him that he will always carry all the hugs I’ve ever given him and will ever give him.  All he has to do is recall them.

Sunshine in plant form.

All the distancing and masks might be an overreaction, but it’s hard to say.  A couple of the adults at the party do have some exposure to others due to their jobs and the possibility always exists that they (or anyone, really) could be carriers.  Since this is not the average cold or flu, it seems best to err on the side of caution.  We will still have three full weeks left here, if we isolate for 10-14 days, and that’s good time to have, with good health.

Jewels on a leaf.

I think I mentioned at some point that I’m taking a Spiritual Ecology course that was offered by Emergence Magazine.  This week we are putting together a ritual of some kind, something that helps us reconnect to the earth, to each other, and to the principles of spiritual ecology (reverence, interconnectedness, compassion, stewardship, and service).

In the morning light.

I already have rituals of my own, but it was interesting to discuss the idea of shared rituals with the small group I was in and then with the group at large.  I am very much enjoying, too, the journaling prompts we’re given each time we meet.  We are given time to write during the class, but I like going back and writing in more detail, sometimes using the prompts for my own daily writing practice.  One prompt I’ve been considering today is:  How do the inner and outer aspects of your (ritual) practice come together?  Which needs more development or deepening, and how do you do this?

Milkweed and morning.

My morning ritual of watching the sunrise is very much an inner ritual of leaning into the day, of connecting with the rhythms of the day and the seasons.  The sun and light move and change throughout the seasons, the landscape changes, nothing is the same from day to day.  But this is something I do quietly, on my own, without any fanfare or outward signs and signals.  I don’t know that I need outward props.  I understand the reason for them and know it can be helpful to have tools and reminders of ritual and of the sacred.  I tend to see the morning itself as the altar, the landscape as the decorations for the altar, and presence as the offering, the prayer, and the ritual.

Hosta in bloom.

Another discussion involved the idea of deep listening, of allowing the earth itself to tell us her stories.  Deep listening is an offering, a gift of our attention, whether we’re listening to another (human or other than human) or to the earth herself.  Listening is something I think I need to go back to.  I’ve been chattering a lot lately, to anyone willing (or maybe not so willing?) to listen.  The subject of listening, particularly deep listening, continues to show up in the things I read or listen to or watch.  Perhaps the universe is telling me something, that I need to be listening.

Have a seat at the table.

Well, I reckon I’ve meandered and rambled enough for one blog post.  Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting with me.  They are saying we’ll have storms late this afternoon and this evening as a cool front moves by.  I don’t think we’ll see much at sunset, but you never know.  Sunset is scheduled for 8:47 PM.  I’ll meet you out by the cornfield if it the storms have finished by then.

Please be safe, be well, and be kind.

Blue.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  1,486)  The blue flowers of summer.  1,487)  All the flowers of summer.  I’ve very much enjoyed the small gardens that the owners of the rental property have scattered throughout the yard, and how they’ve used the flowers that are so common around here, including lots of Queen Anne’s Lace.  1,488)  Listening, learning, noticing.  1,489)  Lentil soup for dinner this evening.  I can’t remember the last time I made a pot of lentil soup.  Probably a week or two before we left the Wabi-Sabi Ranch since it’s usually a regular staple in our diet.  1,490)  Cool and cold fronts, especially after the heat of summer has been lying heavily upon us.

When an ash tree dies and becomes part of a play area for the boys to climb on. (The ash trees have been hit hard by emerald ash borers.)

Some numbers:

  • Confirmed cases of Covid-19 here, in the county we’re in:  648 (59 deaths).  I think the number was somewhere around 503 when we arrived in NE Ohio on July 1.
  • Confirmed cases at home:  115 (3 deaths).

Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

41 thoughts on “A Monday meander: Rituals

  1. Oh my, so much here, and many complications! I think seeing the sun rise would be a good thing. I often see it shortly after it rises, because Katie seems to like to be outside about then. Still, we have so many trees it’s hard to see the actual sunrise. I also know I need to listen more. I tend to talk a lot, which is not something I ever used to do. It’s happened since dad died I think. But…I do need to listen more. I often realize after that I wasn’t listening at all and have no idea what someone has said. This happens pretty frequently. Time to pay attention.

    I hope no one gets sick as a result of the birthday party. And I hope your last 3 weeks together are beautiful and filled with fun and love and no stress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Dawn. 🙂 I never used to chat so much, either. I was always so good at just listening. Maybe that’s it. A lifetime of listening and now it’s time for me to talk. I’d be okay with that if I happened to be saying something profound, but mostly it’s just chatter. The trees here are blocking the sunrise. I see hints of it through the trees. It’s kind of nice because on humid mornings those hints turn into sunbeams and I can see the droplets of the mist or fog floating in the light.

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  2. I love the idea of the course that you’re taking. So many of us are bemoaning having to be isolated and yet, if we dig deep, there are really so many interesting things we can learn, see and do. We do not have to be adventurers all the time. At least not physically. We can have many adventures in other ways. Congrats to you for doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kay. 🙂 I’m beginning to think that staying healthy during this pandemic is an adventure in and of itself. Every outing, even as ordinary as going to the grocery store, requires planning and care.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful pictures, as always. Hope all goes well with that birthday party, and nobody comes down with Covid-19. Such an uncertain time. Hard on everyone, children included. It does seem to me that you are using the time during the pandemic very creatively.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Laurie. 🙂 I was so happy to see the offering from Emergence Magazine for the spiritual ecology course. I thought at first that it was something new to me, and then realized it’s more or less something I’ve been practicing for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You do have to wonder what young children make of the new social distancing rules. My four year old grandson knows there are “naughty germs” so we all have to be careful not to get too close to each other, and to keep our hands clean. We are lucky here that we don’t have any community transmitted cases in our area, so we do sneak hugs now and then. In saying that though, we are constantly listening to news reports to find out where the covid hot-spots are.
    Stay safe, Robin. xx

    Liked by 2 people

              1. We are currently in the middle of a “second wave” which is worse than the first! It’s mainly in Victoria, which is a couple of thousand kilometres from us, and now the Victorian state borders are closed to keep the outbreak confined. I think even with the second outbreak we are faring a lot better than most other countries.

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  5. It’s difficult to know what’s right concerning choices/exposure. Everything is a calculation these days. Sigh. I like to watch the sun rise, too, though it’s not a ritual for me (though I understand it).
    Your photos are beautiful, as always. It’s nice you have those flower gardens to enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Merril. 🙂 I understand your sigh. I’m getting a little tired of the need for always evaluating and reevaluating. Situations keep arising that demand some reasoned decisions, and it’s so difficult to make a good and reasoned decision when there is still so little known about this virus. Thank goodness for the flowers to enjoy. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It must be so hard being a parent of small children and having to make decisions about the pros and cons of socializing. I’m sorry you have to keep your distance again but I am glad you will have a few more weeks together again before you leave. I feel so helpless as I listen to my daughter struggle with these choices for her 5-year-old daughter, who misses her best friend terribly. I watched Dr. Fauci last night ~ he seems hopeful about the huge vaccine trial that just started on 30,000 people. I hope we can all hang on until we get one!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It breaks my heart, Barbara, if I think about it too long and hard. All of it, really, but especially the little ones who don’t/can’ts comprehend what’s going on. Our 2-year-old grandson came running at us the other day shouting, “Hugs! Hugs!” with a big smile on his face and we had to get him to stop and maintain distance. I don’t think he understood why we stopped him and wouldn’t hug him. Fortunately, 2-year-olds are pretty resilient. When we saw him yesterday, we did the distance hugging and he was all smiles about it.

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  7. Robin, such a beautiful post. Francis Weller’s book is a favorite and I keep it close by. I refer to it often…especially in these times. It’s hard to believe the time is moving so swiftly. It doesn’t seem that long ago that you left your home on the Eastern Shore to head to Ohio. I hope you all continue to be safe, and take very good care of yourselves…and your beloved family. Thank you for weaving such beautiful photographs with your wise words. Be well. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Carrie. 🙂 I just heard of Francis Weller and his book in the spiritual ecology class. I’ve added the book to my ever-growing reading list. I imagine it is a good book to have and read right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robin, It’s a great book for anytime, really, and yes…especially now. I’ve posted a time or two on my blog about grief, citing his “gates of grief”. On his website, there is a video of him speaking about this, in general. Powerful work, for sure. I don’t write in my books…I use flags and that book has quite a few.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Cheers to family gatherings. Oh yes – many of us miss socializing. Just have to get it by being smart, which is a heck of a lot better than total isolation. A course in Spiritual Ecology sounds not only interesting, but I know it’s right up your alley. Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Always great to see you, Frank! And I see in the comments to Joanne that you might take up blogging again this fall. Cheers to that! Yes, spiritual ecology is right up my alley. I can’t believe it took me this long to find it. 🙂

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  9. I like your wrap your arms around you way of sharing a hug. I suspect your grandsons will remember that in a positive way forever. Intriguing question: “How do the inner and outer aspects of your (ritual) practice come together?” I’ve never mused on that dichotomy, so thanks for the prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Am pondering that “deep listening” that you describe. It feels like so often we listen just to the surface of things. I know I do. But life becomes so rich when we take the time to listen deeper to the earth and her teachings. And the teachings of others–like your blog post here. Good to hear from you, Robin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kathy. 🙂 I think there are times when I don’t even listen to the surface of things. I space out or get distracted. That’s especially true for me when there is more than one person talking. I always have trouble in spaces where there are crowds of people and noise levels are loud because of that (not that I’m doing that now!). It’s almost as if I’m trying to listen to everyone at the same time which, of course, means I’m not listening to anyone. It’s all just noise. There is something almost sacred about deep listening. I think it allows us to hear more than what’s being said. Or, in the case of listening to the other-than-human and the land itself, maybe it allows us to begin to understand that there is so much we don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it sounds like it gets too much with the noise and distractions. I actually have a problem online sometimes. I read comments and blogs too fast and don’t listen deep enough. It’s like there’s too much information coming forward and the brain just wants to hurry through it. Just had to read your comment three times before deep listening happened. This feels like a big challenge.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh gosh, yes! I have a similar problem with the internet. I think it’s designed to make a person move on as quickly as possible. That is, I think, the whole point of social media (and why they had or continue to have character restrictions — I see that sometimes in WordPress’s continuing effort to redesign their editor so that it’s “sleek and fast”).

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          1. You have really inspired me so much this morning, Robin! Just made a card out of an old calendar, adding some minor details and putting the phrase “deep listening” on the inside. Am going to keep this card by the computer for awhile and remember to listen more deeply and slowly. Also Barry just got paid and instead of quickly recording his paycheck spent a few seconds appreciating our bank balance, his job, and intending for our money to create love/magic. Wow, so much more fun than just blindly and unconsciously recording the deposit. xoxo

            Liked by 1 person

  11. I think ‘listening’ is something most of us could do more of … active listening of others, ourselves and nature. I have got away from my walking meditations and I need to get back to it on a daily basis. It keeps me balanced.
    Hope the rest of your stay goes well. These are stressful days, so finding and holding onto the simple pleasures keeps us sane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Eliza. 🙂 Being here gets more and more complicated as time goes on. I think we would have been better off to have limited this visit to one month, but we can’t change that now. We have asked a lot of our son and his wife by being here, limiting the things they can do (and would like to do).
      I hope you went back to your walking meditations. I know what you mean about them keeping you balanced. My walks do the same for me, even if I don’t go far or for too long.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Always such beautiful posts, Robin. The photos exquisite, the text thought-provoking. This whole situation is surreal and I, like you, prefer to err on the side of caution.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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