what we call ritual

Camp Bearnstow, 2016

    Sweeping in the direction of the floorboards, a woman standing on a rock blowing a whistle to gather the children, drinking prune juice every morning. All along, we have what persists, and are active endowers of ritual. Ritual is defined through action. What we perceive through doing inspires a belonging of lineage and repetitious menealities. 

    Ritual is often imbued with a kind of religiousness or spirituality, when it can simply be the perception of a human rhythm. Our rhythm is ritual. That continuance of sweeping along the grain, that whistle blown - the heeding of the call. 

    Ritual is practical. What I call ritual I only see in hindsight, as I sweep, as I heed; it began, much simpler than all that. 

    What does it say that everything in a kitchen stays in the exact same spot day after day for seventy years? It says that something is cared for, it says that something matters, it says that there has been much hard work before you, and after you, it says….it speaks an integrity of the life led. One’s life, the life one leads is chosen, clear, deliberate. I find this to be truer here in this place, than anywhere else in the world. It is a place, that due to the intertwining lives of its stewards, and the authorship of its founders, has had many a heavy hand to keep it alive. 

    Innovations are seeped in history here — innovation becomes watching the child responding to an adult’s hand with his own, and placing his juice glass upside down on that bigger hand, a creative act. Rituals breed creative acts. And we carry on ritual day after day, so that we can in fact be creative — not with what milk to choose, because the same two are out in the same place every day — but with the work and play we must do, each day, as humans. 

    

    Ritual is what ritual does.

 

    We learn here that everyone can be viewed as their best selves, because everyone has parts of themselves that are wounded, and triggered, and unintentionally malintentioned, because all of us have sides to us that are our ugliest, we choose to be curious, and we choose to see the sum of the parts. I learn here that you cannot judge a human based on one behavior, even if it is the dominant behavior. I learn that as we share ourselves, publicly, in performance and privately together in the kitchen, we are leading our lives. And it can be seen, if you are bossy, if you are cruel, if you are not generous, and still you are welcome here. 

    These are lessons that not many teach anymore. As I endow this place and this history, what becomes most important to me is not necessarily what is on the roster or programming, but rather the transmittance of an ethos, a philosophy and a generosity that divines those acts with meaningful experiences. Because we are here together. Because I could be her great-grand daughter, and what if? Because we are capable of moving and being moved by our lives and the lives of others. And because that in itself is what all this is.

    Because I heed the call inside that says, “You were not the only one here.”