October 16, 2013 § 4 Comments

saxton_ ritual.paintbrushes

Yesterday was a perfect east coast Indian summer kind of day. Bright, warm sun, the slightest soft breeze, the crisp scent of Autumn in the air, colors poised to burst. I couldn’t let it pass without being IN it for a while, so I found a way to bask and be productive at the same time (which is pretty much ideal in my book).

How it went was that one of my projects required some simple watercolor work, so – lightbulb moment! – I gathered my wares and took them outside. And while I was setting up my mini-outdoor studio, I quietly reveled in what I recognized as a ritual.  A lovely order of steps taken, each part of the process, each one savored. In this case, the table moved and cleared of leaves, chair set in the right light, paints out of their box – all their lovely tones smiling up at me –  paper and water placed just so, brushes laid out, noticing how the sun made them sparkle.

This was my ritual; small and sweet. Because, of course, rituals aren’t defined by scale. There are the very grand ceremonial occasions of kings and queens and pope-doms; there are sacred rituals under the full moon. But there are ordinary, every day rituals too ~ rituals that are simply an appreciative way of doing things. Acts that allow space for both gratitude of the moment and your own participation in the creative process. That cause time to pass more gracefully, for things to unfold rather than hurriedly dumped. There’s a time for that too – the quick pulling together, plopping down, instant shifting. And I could have easily done that with my paints yesterday – the end result was relatively simple, and wouldn’t take long. But it felt so much better than rushing to get the job done.

When making the (truly) small, conscious effort to be part of each step, there’s this wonderful sense of being present, being aware of the interplay of yourself and the elements and this sort of fabric you’re weaving with your actions, thoughts and intentions.

In our go-go-go world, we don’t always stop for ritual; we forget. We do one thing and move on. Done. Crossed off the list. On to the next. But it can be so very simple to include a touch of ceremony, and can make whatever task or event or experience more rich and more enjoyable. Preparing a meal. Setting the table. Folding towels. (I know, I might be stretching it a little, and sure, there are some chores you just want to get through ~ but it’s true in more cases than not.) Rather than just blindly “doing”, bring the senses into it. Breathe between steps. Make it a pleasure. Add a flourish of ritual. :  )


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