As the impact of the pandemic gradually unfolds I keep wondering what has happened, what is happening now, and what is about to happen as summer opens up new opportunities for recovery and recommitment.
What has happened for me, and actually continues to happen, among other considerations, is that my basic assumptions about my personal health and public safety has had to constantly adapt from feeling frightened and besieged by the possibility of an agonizing and solitary death and my consternation and anger at the reluctance of so many to acce[t the directives of mutual care. And now I am still coping with a gray zone of what I can expect and trust from the information that is available in terms of my personal well-being and protection.
I am referring only to medical issues related to Covid. But politics, war, climate threats, racial and ethnic reckoning provide a seemingly constant and increased dissonance at some level of society. So much complexity and uncertainty takes a toll on my ability to find those places where I feel most grounded and at home in my own self, in community, and my world. I am really struggling, for example, with what it means for me to live in a world trying to find its way between a “hybrid” reality of in-person relationships and coming to accept that I am also likely to be forever knowing most of my personal and professional relationships through the limitations an electronic TV screen (and, yes, I am also aware of the many welcome advantages of on-line communication as well).
So I keep asking myself why I feel so untethered by my new reality of being even as it becomes less threatening. Is it simply because it is not as it used to be, or is it that something deeply intrinsic, something fundamental to who I am is missing as a person walking around in my body and consciousness.
This morning I had a bit of an insight that has given me a clue, and I want to share it with you to see if it applies to you as well. In short, I am missing what might be called social ritual, or even sacred ritual. (And, yes, it’s probably more apparent to us extroverts.) Most specifically for me I love to be in our Quaker circle of sacred silent worship. And I miss the “sacred” ritual of tea and cookies and chatter about our lives that follows. And I miss our pot luck dinners within the meeting community and the other communal potlucks and gatherings that was so much a part of life here on Whidbey Island before the epidemic.
I do have a daily practice of individual meditation and prayer, and Cathy and I share moment of hush before meals and often in the morning sunlight. But without the sacred, in-person, group rituals of worship and deep fellowship, especially during memorial services and weddings that we have had to postpone or forego, I feel something special is missing in my soul.
I have no particular requests for myself or in general regarding reestablishing the heart-felt need for sacred rituals of community and relationship as we attempt to build this post-Covid world. But at the least I have discovered how essential the rituals of community are to all of us (yes, to you introverts as well; admit it!). And I am committed to try to be better at inviting and welcoming people into my various circles of ritual, both large (as in worship) as well as in small rituals of gatherings where handshakes, hugs, and common meals were part of our comings and goings.
We are still very much in the recovery mode from the impact of the Covid isolation, and we may be in the mode for some time yet. But let us be aware of our need to reconnect with each other and help each other find how we can meet our needs for fellowship and mutual support, often in the form of a ritual.