A dear friend of mine recently moved back into her home after being away for a year. The place no longer felt the same. Others had lived there while she was gone and after a couple weeks of being back, she realized that she felt like a stranger in her house.
Maybe you’ve had that experience before? Perhaps you’ve sold a home and driven by it a year later, only to notice the differences that new inhabitants make? More than a new door or landscaping, different people bring a different feeling or atmosphere.
Rebekah called me and together we created a blessing ritual for cleansing and reclaiming her space.
As a culture, we’ve gotten away from ritual, symbolic ceremonies for saying goodbye to something, to usher in something new.
Rituals celebrate and mark life transitions. Our most common American rituals are birthdays, weddings, funerals, and baby showers. But many transitions aren’t often marked by ritual: coming of age, returning from war, becoming a mother, getting a divorce and living single, restoring land or buildings, and as in my friend’s case, renewing a living space.
The symbolic nature of blessing and ritual signal a change to our psyches. This is what we desire. This is what we treasure, and this is what we’re claiming.
Religion and spiritual traditions embrace ritual. Take the celebration of communion on Sundays—breaking bread within the community and sharing a symbolic meal. Churches do this to remember and invoke the presence of God.
I have a friend from India who has icons of Hindu goddesses in her kitchen cupboard. She adorns them with her finest jewelry, and places flowers and fresh fruit in front of them. She honors the qualities each goddess represents, to bring the same into her life.
Another friend of mine creates crowns of spring flowers to place on the head of a statue of the Holy Mother in her garden, who she believes stands guard of her well-being and her home.
Last week, we gathered at Rebekah’s to cleanse and reclaim her home. I wrote a blessing that we took turns reading aloud, and we doused rooms with water using a blooming lilac branch. We played a wood flute, a drum, and bells as we walked. The addition of sound can lift the ritual to a higher level.
Words carry vibration that can alter our perception. A poem can create a cathartic experience with just a few lines. Blessings can do the same. We feel the change within us, and that change ripples into the space around us and the ground below us. We walk out of the ritual and into a new way of being.
Lisa is a writer and creator of the course Figuring Out What’s Next. If you find yourself in the middle of a transition, and not sure what to do next, this course was written for you.