Have you been doing your “Falling in Love with God” journal/scrapbook/digital file? For an idea to keep you going in your endeavor to get closer to God, I want you to come up with a ritual, a prayer ceremony and write it down in your journal.
I like ritual. I think we need more of it in our lives. It just doesn’t feel like a holiday unless certain rituals are performed. Whether they are something as simple as drinking eggnog while putting up the tree, or hiding the baby Jesus so that He’s not seen before Christmas we all have our rituals.
We don’t realize how important they are until they are missing. One year, my son and his girlfriend said that we shouldn’t put out the dump trucks for Easter.
“Get over it Mom, we are way too old for dump trucks.”
Yes, our family has dump trucks not Easter baskets. Long story. Anyway, in accordance with their wishes I didn’t make them Easter dump trucks and didn’t even put them out. Then something came up and they didn’t come over for Easter. We always spend Easter with our friends and their family but that year their son and his wife, and their daughter all had conflicting obligations and couldn’t make it. So it was just us and them and dinner like it would be any other night of the year.
On the way home after dinner, I was told my husband it didn’t feel like Easter. Now we had gone to church, and had our typical Easter dinner but it was missing something. Part of the ritual was gone. The family wasn’t there complaining about and ridiculously enjoying a stupid board game. There was no “getting ready” for the day with making certain dishes because some people love a certain foods or deciding on what little gifts to get our son and his girlfriend.
In short… There were no dump trucks.
Yes, kids grow up. Yes, adults have other obligations. I know this. The point is the ritual was missing. The ritual is what makes the holiday. But that is what we forgot. The rituals were around other people and not around God. God is always there, dump truck or not. What is Easter without a dump truck? It’s the day that Jesus rose from the dead!
God is the reason behind every holiday (holy day). So this holiday season, make a ritual that you do for the holiday. One that YOU do. Your family can join you and that makes it better but even if the family is not there you do it by yourself. Even if it is simple as looking at a picture of the empty manger and meditating on what it was like to be there. Maybe it’s lighting a candle and just sitting in silence with God. You don’t need a long and elaborate ritual but you do need one.
To make a ritual there are a few things to consider, like when will you do this? A simple ritual of this can be every time you light incense you pray, “As this smoke rises, my prayers rise to you, O Lord.” A simple action with a prayer. When else will you do this is there a holiday you wish to celebrate? An event in your life that you wish to thank God for?
Another thing to consider, could be what are you doing this ritual for? To get closer to God, of course, but what else? Are you trying to stop smoking and ruining the temple of the Holy Spirit within you? A simple ritual could be taking the cigarette you wanted to smoke and crumbling it onto the ground, feeding a plant with this compost, while praying, “With your help, O Lord, I will not smoke again. Let this become life giving compost to this plant that creates the oxygen I need instead of killing my lungs.” Are you trying to release your anger over a certain situation? Try writing it down and burning it while praying, “With Your help, O Lord, my anger is burned up with the fires of your Love.”
A third thing to consider, what do you want to do? The action of the ritual should be part of the prayer. For example, if you light a candle, you could pray, “As I light this candle I am putting myself in the Light of Your Presence, O Lord.” Think symbolically. You are always in the Presence of God but by lighting the candle you are psychologically allowing yourself to be reminded of that fact and to be able to bring it to mind and focus on it.
You may wish to consider what you want to say. The prayer could be formal for some rituals and off the cuff, straight from the heart in others. An example of this would be before eating you say grace, is it a memorized prayer or is it something you just make up at every meal?
Now, where do you want to do this ritual? Do you want to be alone in your room? Do you want to be in nature under a tree? Do you want a firepit? Where suits the nature of your ritual the best? By way of example if you wanted to have a ritual to better reflect God’s Love here on earth, you might want to stand in the moonlight. As the moon reflects the sun, just as you wish to reflect the Son. Again, think symbolically.
Lastly, how do you want to do this ritual? Is it short? Is it long? Complex or simple? Long complex rituals for special occasions are a lot of fun. All complex long rituals are, are just a series of small simple rituals strung together with one theme.
Now, does all of this mean that this form of prayer can only be done in a specific way at a specific time or the prayer is not going to work? NO. This is not magic, this is just another form of worship. There is no right and wrong. These are emotional and psychological constructs to better focus your prayer. We are human and our minds were made to think. Thinking, with your mind jumping all over the place, is not conducive to concentrated, focused pray or meditation. That is the main reason for ritual, to place your mind where you need to be and on what you need to do.
So to recap, this exercise is to write a ritual in your Love Journal.
When will you do this ritual?
Why are you doing this ritual?
What do you want to do during this ritual?
What do you want to say during this ritual?
Where do you want to do this ritual?
How do you want to do this ritual?
Peace be with you.