Maxine Hong Kingston is a journalist, activist, and author of several memoirs. While her credentials ground her in reality, magic and mysticism permeate her work.
At a talk in Seattle many years ago, she mentioned something about ritual lending meaning to everyday life. Ritual can infuse a new beginning with hope and optimism, or bring closure to long-standing pain. Ritual brackets and celebrates events, and can still fold up and fit in your pocket.
As an example, eating an orange is the quickest and easiest for me to enter a state of complete mindfulness. The pockmarked skin, the sound of tearing it open, the fragrant orange-smell, plus the way it feels soft, or cold — and of course, the sweet or sour taste. There’s something about eating an orange that makes it really easy for me to be 100% aware, focused, and present.
It’s not because it’s my favorite fruit, though.
I grew up pagan, and on the solstices and equinoxes we would eat oranges or orange slices as a little shout-out to the sun and its role as a fixed point, astrophysically and metaphorically, in the chaos of our lives. It’s possible that this tiny bit of sun-worship informs my relationship with oranges, although I don’t set out to worship during lunch, per se.
What we do as ritual, how we do it, says a lot about where we’re coming from. It describes our mental state in a roundabout way. It describes what we value, why we seek peace, and how we go about it. It can be as small as the way someone pulls their hair back, or as large as the rallying of a city.
What rituals show up in your story? What rituals show up in your life?
“Addictions are poor substitutes for the rituals you need but have not yet found.”
― Michael Meade
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
― Gary Snyder