I have come to find the use of rituals to be powerful in my life. I didn’t set out to form rituals and it wasn’t until a friend used the word to describe some activities I do that I even recognized them as such.
In hindsight, it makes sense. My life journey has exposed me to the power of rituals through The Crucible Project, my church and other spiritual leaders. It followed quite naturally to start incorporating the experiences that brought me peace and connection into how I live.
To me, rituals serve to ground me, to connect me to my source, to connect me in my relationships, to release me of my stories and to find gratitude.
This past year my wife and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. Now, many people have celebrated a 10th anniversary and some even more. But to make it to our 10th — with love still filling our hearts — felt momentous to me. No one told me how hard cultivating a marriage and constantly chasing love actually could be (and if they did, I sure didn’t understand it).
Amidst the goodness, our first 10 years was filled with illness, depression, doubts, random women’s underwear found in our closet (try explaining that when you had nothing to do with it), sabotage from outside our marriage, moments of “sticking it out for the kids,” lost dreams, and broken trust. The the list could go on and on.
So coming on the heels of some tough years I felt we needed to do something that captured what those 10 years encapsulated and that simultaneously would start us off on the next decade.
On the night of our celebration we went down to the ocean, just the two of us. We re-read our wedding vows to one another. Then I had my wife pick a rock up from the water. Together we held it and poured over that rock our words, tears, anger — and all the rest of our energy — that still lingered from the past 10 years. We spoke of love, joy, grief, sorrow and struggle. When we both felt a full release, we honored the rock and asked it to carry back to the vastness of the ocean all that we needed to let go of. With that, I threw it in the ocean and watched it sink.
With many tears I began to look forward, knowing that I simply don’t know what the next 10 years — or even the next year — will hold for us. My wife looked and said to me, “I chose you now and even if I knew how tough it was going to be I would chose you again on that day 10 years ago.” Those are the words I chose to remember and bring with me anywhere I go
We created that ritual based on other rituals we had experienced. But doing that together was the best start I can imagine to our next decade of marriage. To me, that is what a ritual can do. From the outside, it looks meaningless. But to those who give their full presence to the experience, there is power. There is no magic formula to make a ritual real. When you chose to believe, the power is already there.
In many ways, it is about choosing to be intentional and letting simple experiences shape the life you want to live.
By Greg Hawkins
Greg completed his initial weekend in 2014 and will complete the Two-Year Transformational program this year. He believes in the power of being vulnerable to foster authentic and courageous lives. He is a husband, dad of two girls, yogi, blogger, and is a director at an industrial supply company. His favorite activities are dance parties with his girls, getting outside with his dogs or horse and date nights with his wife.
Photo Credit: Marco Verch via Creative Commons