I will be the first to tell you I like ritual and that would be no surprise if you know me. When I was younger I loved midnight mass on Christmas Eve. It was so different from my Protestant experience.
From there, I have circled with Witches, had fire ceremony with Native American Shamans, participated in Ceremonial Majick rituals, conducted New Age healing rites and of coarse had my fair share of seances, channelings and Ouija board sessions.
Although philosophically we are very close, in practice my husband and I are vastly different in how we interface with our concept of the Divine. He does not require this stylized marking of the passing of time. When we have tried to do things together his lack of reverence for ritual etiquette is for me both disquieting and chaotic. The exact opposite effect of how ritual is supposed to work. I abandoned it years ago and have not looked back.
I also think it is important for my daughter to find her own way. She has access to books, people, and experiences to develop her guiding principles. I have not thrust my beliefs upon her any more than I have had to. She has no compulsory services to attend, no one religious text to study. I want her to be able to hear her own heart and mind.
I have to admit it can be lonely. On more than one occasion I have found myself out on my porch, in the dead of night, blowing my conch shell in honor of some life event that I felt the need to commemorate.
I also shy away from the expectation of momentous meaning. We often times glaze this upon Holidays like Christmas. In so much as we all construct our reality, I see many desperately trying to create a sugar coated reality that flies in the face of logic or reason. ” We are going to have fun if it kills us!” The pressure is too much. This is probably why there are so many emotional break downs around this time.
So when I find myself trying to make memories and traditions for my family it is sometimes difficult. This past Christmas(2012) we decided to try something new. We awoke early, ate a hearty breakfast and took ourselves to the movie theater for a double feature. It was great. No pressure, no insane expectation, just time together.
So then why was I left with such an empty feeling? Kent and Sylvia had a great time and could have wanted nothing more. But I was left wanting. Wanting what?
Ultimately I guess what I am looking for is a sense of connection. An external formal reminder, a reinforcement of my internal state. An affirmation that We are One. That I am a part of my Family, Humanity, the Earth, the Universe as we understand it. I realize all this is true whether I light a candle or not. But something deep inside me craves the ceremony.
I am a secular humanist and do not believe in god per se. But that does not mean that I do not find wonder and awe all around me. There is something about looking at everything just as it is no supernatural patina needed. Maybe it is easier than I am making it and I need to just release it, let it go.