What is a ritual? It is a simple, small habit or action that you perform on a regular basis.
Each day, week or month brings new challenges, new experiences, and new memories. In the midst of our ever-changing lives, we each have our own rituals that rarely change. Perhaps you have never taken the time to really think about it. Yet, it is the rituals of our lives that bring us comfort from day to day. They are something constant.
Every morning I rise early, and in the midst of my morning fog I shuffle my way to the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee. I can’t imagine a morning that doesn’t contain the smell of freshly brewed coffee. For me it is necessary. It is an important part of my daily routine. It speaks to me, “You’ve got this day.”
In the kitchen, my eyes scan the shelf inside the cupboard and the mug rack that sits on the countertop. Which one will I choose? Over the past few years or so I have become a master collector of mugs. As I pick up one and then another, I smile at the memories or emotions that each one contains. I am sure there is a mug in the collection for any mood or perceived need. Then there is my hand-warming mug, my adventure mugs, my favorite Christmas mug, and the mug I like to use in the fall that says, “Good morning Pumpkin.” Sometimes it is hard to choose.
A mug is selected based on my mood. The mugs are part of my daily ritual. After carefully selecting one, I fill it up with coffee, inhale, and take my first sip. I sigh with contentment as the steam swirls before me. This daily ritual brings me peace and comfort. It can motivate me or remind me that perhaps I need a little more adventure, or some inspiration. My collection of mugs keeps growing and I continue to smuggle a new one in the house now and then.
Over the years I have witnessed the power of ritual involving coffee. When I lived in Holland years ago, I remember how the world would stop about 10 a.m. for those in my neighborhood. As I sat outside on my patio of the row house I lived in, I could hear the clinking and clanking of dishes as my neighbors set the table for coffee. Their living room held a round table that had an eclectic assortment of vintage chairs around it. They would set the table with fine china cups, saucers, and tiny spoons. A plate of treats that held cookies or raisin buns would be set in the middle. They would sit for 30 minutes or so resting, visiting, and enjoying their day. It was a ritual.
In Sweden there is something called fika. Fika (fee-ka) is a word that means taking a break for coffee and a bite to eat. Yet, it is more than just coffee time. It is a time to relax and spend time with family or friends. It is a pause in the day.
While in Finland, I experienced something similar at our relative’s summer cabin. We were going about our day, and all of a sudden the women got up and set the table with a spread of delicious treats. We sat while they poured us coffee and put plates before us. Each day while we traveled in Finland, we would pick a cafe and order coffee and a pastry. We came to appreciate that time we set apart each day. It was a time to reflect on all that we were experiencing.
As someone who works every day, the ritual of fika is difficult. I can’t stop my day for a half-hour while I indulge in a time of visiting and treats. But I do try and grab a coffee at a local coffee shop whether it be when I am at lunch or on my 15-minute break. It brings color into what could be a mundane day.
What are your daily rituals? They don’t have to be about coffee. Perhaps for you it is setting aside time each day for a cup of tea. Perhaps they don’t involve food or drink at all. A new ritual for me is while on my lunch break, I read. I always have a book or magazine with me. Reading is something I love to do, but don’t have much time for. I discovered that I was able to incorporate it into my day while I eat my lunch. It is a time I look forward to each day with anticipation. It is a safe resting place. Perhaps it is time for you to add a new ritual into your day?
When tea becomes a ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? — Muriel Barbery
Jody Rae is a social worker who lives in both Britt and Ely, MN. She spends most of her time on the water or in the woods, where she is always planning her next adventures, both near and far.