We may remember those early days of a new school, a new summer camp, or a new job as being chaotic. However, we become veterans at something when we develop a routine, rituals, for our day to day lives. For our kids or grandkids, the ritual might be playing with their friends at recess or eating lunch with the same people, or sitting in the same seat in the classroom. For us, the rituals could be date nights with friends or loved ones, morning meditations we have around a cup of coffee, or the spiritual moments we take for ourselves at the end of a day, a week, or a year.
Ritual is a gateway to make sense of an otherwise chaotic world. When we press pause on Shabbat, we make a ritual out of rest. We force ourselves to pull back from the daily grind–from the trees–and appreciate the greater world–the whole forest.
The best kinds of ritual are the ones that help us to become more aware of ourselves, our connection with others, and in some special cases, with God. Anyone who has tried starting a new ritual for healthier eating, better sleep habits, or reading, knows that rituals take time to stick. That is one of the reasons it takes a community, a commitment from dozens or hundreds of people, to give us the strength to persist in our rituals.
When we face the chaos of the death of a loved one, when we enter into a new phase of life, or when we begin a new endeavor, we need the comfort and security that community and ritual provide.
May this Shabbat provide us the space to begin again with rituals of that allow us to delve deeper into ourselves and the Divine.