Higher Living Reflections

Morning Rituals

As a student in Catholic schools, I became familiar with the concepts of rite and ritual early in life. They were taught, of course, in context of religion and were generally presented positively. That is when it came to the Church’s rituals. There was an underlying disapproval of those not sanctioned by the Church. Accordingly, I was learning about rites and rituals only within religious context and that the only ones truly sacred were the Church’s.

In time, I came to understand the limited, parochial extent of that teaching. Rituals are not limited to formal religion. We engage in them when in the public sphere, for example, by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before a meeting. We each have our own private rituals. Further, rituals in themselves are morally neutral. It is the practitioner who assigns them value, although observers can decide whether they consider a certain practice sacred or noble.

My morning ritual begins while still lying abed. I offer gratitude for my blessings, ask for courage, strength, and guidance for right living, and send warm, comforting energies to loved ones in need. After arising, I steep a cup of green tea and toast a slice of homemade bread that I slather with preserves, which are oftentimes ones I made. Finally, I climb to my aerie where I partake of the tea and toast, and I meditate. For me, it is more than reminiscent of a priest or minister blessing bread and wine at Mass or service. It is the same. My morning communion.

I suspect other Americans begin their day similarly, only with coffee being the preferred caffeine jolt (future topic, by the way) and perhaps a bagel or sweet roll. Some might do yoga and others head off to the gym or go for a run. The practices are as varied in number as the people performing them. Collectively, they/we form the American Rite.

Quiet and solitude are essential aspects of my morning ritual. But then I like quiet afternoon and evening time too, so there you go. Jesting aside, I imagine parents, especially of toddlers, lifting, pulling, or dragging themselves out of bed before their kids awaken so they can have quiet me-time. Then there are those who flip on TVs, log on to computers, or scroll smartphones shortly after getting out of bed. I don’t understand why, but I don’t judge the ritual or the practitioner. I simply seek to understand.

It is fun and interesting to listen to others tell of their rituals. And try to understand the reasons for what they do. In that vein, I encourage you to go beyond the what of your rituals and reflect on the why. Why have you created and practice certain personal rituals and honor and participate in those of your professional, social, religious, and civic communities? What good comes from them?

It has been quite the journey since my Catholic school boyhood, but many of my learnings, like rites and rituals, remain indelibly etched in my psyche even though the formal teachings of the Church no longer are. Leaving a closed system that provides all the answers can be unsettling for some, but for me, it has been liberating. It has allowed me to ask why a lot, like why we create and practice certain rituals.

Though hard for me to grasp, I understand—sort of—why some do not perform their morning rituals in quiet or solitude. That’s okay. Whatever float’s their boat. I am pleased they can do their thing where they are, and I can do mine up in my aerie in the pre-dawn stillness with a cup of hot green tea and a piece of toasted homemade bread slathered with the blueberry or strawberry preserves I concocted.

Next time, a dive into why we create and participate in rituals.

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  • Patricia Sellers
    August 20, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Love your ritual and enjoy hearing of the others. You’re correct on your phrase… what ever floats your boat lol.
    My favorite, when I have the time, is on days off when I finish helping in the barn and take the “girls” .. my Śunka and Taņka.. to the edge of the barn. I’ll sit in an old iron chair and they sit close by watching .. and hoping .. for squirrels (zića .. zee-cha) Its my quiet time when I think about the days coming or days gone by, offer prayers and energies to those I love and those in need. It’s a good time. Hinhanni waśte .. a good day
    Thechilla and namaste

  • th
    August 25, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Usually start withcoffee while I still pray everyday. Early morning walk then to my bowl of oatmeal