I think most of you have noticed that I’ve been posting on Instagram our new view a lot lately. I just can’t help myself. I wish all my friends could come and gaze out on the beautiful landscape with me. Since you can’t, I just keep posting.
Things often change with a question. Our friend Karen was visiting us last weekend. While on the deck sipping out coffee and tea she asked if posting those picture was a ritual of mine. I pondered her question for a minute. No, the photos are not the ritual. They are the icons of my ritual.
An icon is visual representation, or a remembrance of something that holds meaning. In this instance I’m referring to a spiritual symbol. In Eastern traditions of the Christianity icons have been and are still important part of worship and spiritual practices. Icons are meant to help us connect to God. They give us something to focus on. Icons help us to visually remind us of an ancestor in our spiritual family that empowered to change the world around them. I think if we stop and think we all have icons that we favor. Currently mine are right out the kitchen window and a long my drive to work.
Rituals are subscribed practices set for by an organization or a spiritual community or organization. Merriam-Webster wasn’t that helpful in this case. What I mean by ritual is something we do personally or corporately to worship God. It could be something standardized like the liturgy or singing 3 songs before a sermon or partaking in communion/The Lord’s Supper/The Eucharist. It could be something like yoga and scripture before breakfast or a walk on your lunch. A ritual can be a practice that helps enrich your life and give it more meaning.
My younger, more Evangelical self, has a push-back to those words. When I was in high school I the world ritual had some negative connotations. Rituals were things that pagans or dry, lifeless forms of church did. Icons were foreign to my church experience so like most unknown things I feared them.
Then, at about the same time my assumptions about these words were challenged.
Ritual was challenged by an invitation to church with a Catholic friend. His parish was full of life. People there were joyful and passionately partook in the aerobic nature of the liturgy. I was greeted with huge smiles and energetic handshakes. It was wonderful to see so much joy where in the past I had only seen what confirmed what I thought I already knew. I had rituals all wrong.
Soon after that my soccer coach shared with us about an important icon to him. I attended a Christian school that had a spiritual retreat every fall. During worship he explained the importance icons in his Greek Orthodox tradition. I don’t remember what he said that day. Whatever he said changed my assumption.
When you look at my Instagram feed, now you know. Know that accompanying the photo you are enjoying was a moment or two of gratitude and worship to God. A moment I felt the wind on my face, salty air in my nostrils, being more grounded in my body that God handcrafted. I invite you to join my rituals. Feel free to barrow my icons if it helps. Their not really mine anyway.
Thanks for stopping by. Be uncommon.