In this season already filled with rituals — checking off school supply lists, buying Halloween treats, changing the time on our non-atomic clocks, and shifting menus to adapt to shorter and perhaps cooler days — we can also show love through rituals, if we are mindful of their role in our closest relationships.
I credit some of the rituals that David and I created while carrying on our two-year transatlantic courtship with helping us make it to the next level in our relationship. Once our romance was launched, we used the fax machine to send “good morning” and “goodnight” messages across the Atlantic over the next two years. (We were not using email in 1996.) Because of the six-hour time difference, we each woke up with a greeting from the other, mine to him in Paris sent before I went to sleep, and his written the next morning before his lunch break while I was still asleep in Connecticut. Our tacit agreement to honor this meaningful exchange laid the groundwork for the 21 years of trust, many surprises, and much pleasure that were to follow.
The key to a ritual expressing and expanding love lies in the ability to continue to infuse it with meaning. Empty rituals are empty. They can waste a person's time and become annoying. Rituals require periodic examination and re-evaluation to retain their utility.
What makes a meaningful ritual?
How can a ritual show love?
Why a ritual can show love
defining who is included and who is not. Some can be completely open, available to anyone who chooses to participate, or available to those who opt into a particular group, tribe, or affiliation. Or rituals can be dyadic, shared only between two people whose relationship has a unique intimacy.
What rituals are most important to you? In what ways do they bring love to you? Have you ever consciously adapted a ritual to changing circumstances, needs, or participants? Can you remember realizing it was time to either end or radically revise an old ritual?
Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower
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