|Bridge Over Putah Creek-Davis, CA|
In a previous post I mentioned being Jewish. Judaism is a wonderful religion from my standpoint. It both answers and poses many great questions about life, spirituality, and belief that I find in many cases to be personally tailored to my way of thinking. But because I didn't grow up with it, the rituals and precepts aren't always helpful to me. I find that observing and applying those rituals doesn't come naturally for me and oftentimes I fail to grasp their importance.
Such is the case of the sanctification of the every day. Many Jews recite ritual blessings prior to and during common acts such as eating, drinking wine, reciting a particular prayer or even getting on an airplane! The idea I think is to be mindful of yourself and of God's role in what you are about to do or enjoy. You want to be thankful really. The rituals and prayers also give structure to things that oftentimes have no structure such as death, disaster, and other negative events. They also celebrate miracles, bounty and joy. Blessing the every day is a wonderful habit even for those with no particular religious affiliation or feelings.
Maybe sharing this particular ritual will be helpful. It involves speaking about the deceased. It's common practice to add an epithet of sorts after speaking a deceased person's name. As an example, if your sister Mary had died, you might say something like, "I remember my sister Mary, may her memory be a blessing. She used to do such-and-such when she went outside." It's a way to continually honor the life and memory of a loved one. It's also an important aspect of healing and resolution particularly if those things are difficult to find.
As I reflected on my day yesterday and thought about my mom, I realized why that particular ritual mentioned above can be so helpful. Simply adding those words when speaking a person's name erases any hurt and anger that you could still be harboring towards that person. It reduces things down to something so simple: may that person's memory be a blessing (and not a burden or source of pain). There is benefit in ritual but it isn't always obvious.