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  • I need secular rituals to punctuate my days, but unlike a religious liturgy, mine are always changing. Periodically I make an offering to the little shrines around my house, a camellia or a sprig of rosemary from my yard or sometimes a necklace or just a touch. I'm sure church people would scoff at that, but it reminds that I'm not just flesh and blood, that my soul probably needs more attention that it gets. For about a year (the length of the gift subscription), I would look forward to coming home on Friday after work and sitting down for a mindless session with People magazine and a glass of wine. Nothing soulful there, but it was the ellipsis between home and work, a way to wash my mind of Monday through Friday and start the weekend with a blank slate. At various points in my life, I've made a ritual out of a writing practice by going to a coffee house with a favorite book at the time (anything from alchemy to art), reading a bit and then doing my own writing. The white noise of other people chatting not too loudly is a break from the quiet of my house or the constant interruptions at work. It puts my brain in a completely different mind zone, one that is more open to ideas in the ether or the sudden appearance of a muse. As an introvert, I don't mind solitude -- I need it to regenerate -- but lately I've been taking the NY Times to the Starbucks near my house on Sunday and slowly and methodically working my way through it. For months, I've forsaken the paper edition to read it online, but I've come to appreciate the feeling of solid accomplishment from making my way through the actual paper that I don't get with the digital version. It has been grounding me in some unnameable way. Each ritual in my life seems to appear because there's a need for it that I might not understand at the time but somehow quietly nourishes me or helps me navigate a particular part of my journey.
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