June 2021: Ritual
Community On Purpose - The Value of Ritual
As part of the process of preparing for this community to meet again in person, our spiritual leadership team got together to envision how our reimagined gatherings would look and feel. We allowed Spirit to guide our discussions and we spent hours “heart-storming” both the messages that came through loud and clear, and those still small whispers we received from The One. From this process, we mapped all our key words and phrases into an app that creates a visual representation based on the frequency of common terms, called a “word cloud.” This tool enabled the team to see everything that showed up in our visioning; all in one place, with the most resonant concepts virtually popping off the page. Right in the center of our word cloud, in large font, was the word “ritual.”
As April Bone writes- “Rituals motivate and move us. Through ritual we build families and community, we make transitions and mark important events in our lives, we express ourselves in joy and sorrow, and perhaps, most importantly, we create and sustain identity.”
Ritual comes in every shape and color. From the flamboyant solemnity of Roman Catholic High Mass to the flamboyant celebration of the Pride Parade. From shamanic rites practiced by the Huichol Indians of Mexico to modern-day self-help rituals. From Swedish girls dancing around the maypole on Midsummer's Eve – believed to be a magical time for love - to ethnic Chinese/Thai piercing their cheeks with blades and swords to bring good fortune during Phuket’s bloody Vegetarian Festival. Ritual is part of Humanity’s collective DNA.
While some may dismiss ritual practice as old fashioned, the act of ritual is an essential part of the human condition that remains with us today, simply because it seems to work. Unlike habits which are often mindless, rituals are generally mindful – a series of actions carried out for a specific purpose.
As Community Manager here at Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living, it is my job to ensure that everyone who engages with us in any way, shape, or form feels both seen and heard. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly. The pandemic taught us many lessons and allowed us to grow in many ways, but there is no denying that the isolation and detachment it came with needed to be addressed. When I saw the word “ritual” in the center of our cloud, I knew that whatever we did to bring the community back together would have to provide opportunities to release and reconnect through ritual. While I promise we won’t be doing any cheek piercing with swords, it is my vow that we will come together to practice our mission of being Love in Action in ways that will inspire, educate and create limitless opportunity for expression. I need that sense of connection and I’ll bet you do too!
When we were finally able to gather as a community on June 6th, Reverend Amani and I facilitated a ritual of release by conceptually ‘burning up in a flash paper flame’ what no longer served us, and allowing what we desire to grow by ‘watering the flower of our consciousness’. It was a beautiful way of being seen and heard, and of creating ‘community on purpose.’ We will continue to plan and co-create meaningful experiences through our gatherings, full of ritual and steeped in JOY! Welcome home one and all, and as my dear friend and fellow practitioner, Paul Cuffee extolls- “we are ALL new here!”
Jeffrey MacNutt, RScP