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Recognizing Ritual

Recognizing Ritual

I awoke at sunrise to slip out the door with my gloves, sheers, and bucket of water. The summer temperatures on the 1st of April meant I didn’t have a day to lose. One Monday morning each spring my co-workers walk into the office to the sweet scent of newly cut lilac blooms filling the air, and today was the day.

I had a sense of purpose. I remembered the many years my small act made others smile and filled my heart with joy. I knew that no matter how long my to-do list, today this was number one.

I was slow to develop the appreciation of rituals. I associated them with meaningless dutiful acts done to please others. Today, I give them newfound respect.

Rituals ground us. Bind us to our past. To those who came before us. To others around the globe. How we carry out our rites differs by family, culture, and religion, but most are rooted in universal experiences. The changing of seasons. The coming of age. The end of life.

Our culture has well-defined rituals around birth, marriage, and death. Not so when it comes to divorce. Most divorcing people have no such communal or even intimate tradition which is uniformly recognized.

No ceremony. No meal. No gifts. (Maybe an occasional card thanks to Hallmark.) Many will not even have the opportunity to appear before a judge to hear an official announcement that the marriage is irretrievably broken and is dissolved.

You might consider creating a divorce ritual for yourself, to be performed with your former spouse should you be so fortunate as to part amicably. Or you could get together with family and close friends to exchange words and symbols of the occasion. Whether closing, healing, or blessing is your intention, a ceremony might be right for you.

Divorce ceremony or not, do not underestimate the power of ritual to center and calm you when you feel that everything around you is filled with chaos and uncertainty. Few life events turn us more upside down than the end of a marriage and all that goes with it. Rituals can provide comfort and certainty in a time when it is desperately needed.

As I buried my nose in the branches, I was aware I no longer had my master gardner husband who, on our wedding day, promised me a lifetime of flowers. Gone, too, was our charming acreage on which a lovely trio of lilac bushes greeted us each spring at the end of the lane.

In the face of these endings in my life, my tiny ritual reminded me of what has not ended: the coming of spring.  It had come and it would come again. I could count on the lilacs to bloom another season. No matter what the future held, this I knew, and I breathed deeply in the sweet reminder.

Coach Koenig