WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER
Nearly every evening this week, I've taken the same 4 hour hike close to my home. I walk the forty minutes from my apartment to the trail entrance tucked behind a cluster of old homes before weaving my way up the yucca-seeded hillside. At the top I like to sit on the same lichenous rock and read; and on the way back, I connect with a secondary trail that takes me straight to a verdant field alive with orange poppies. My route (and my routine) doesn't change much but each trek brings with it fresh discoveries. Clusters of freckled mushrooms straight from the pages of Alice in Wonderland. Silvery junipers that stretch toward the sun. White-bellied birds with inky blue feathers who gather within the skeletons of shrubs and sing. I've been so restless lately, hungry for my next adventure, ready to move, that learning how to be where I am—right now—is truly a balm for the soul.
Rituals for reconnection often arise for us when things are rocky. The decision to take this daily hike was in many ways a remedy for my unemployment. I was feeling blue and shaky and unsure what to do next and so I sought to ground myself in the foothills close to my home. But taking this daily pilgrimage has affirmed for me just how soul-nourishing rituals are. I want to set myself up for the kind of rituals that can sustain me thru the good and bad–thru my next move, thru the next setback, thru the next success. The world has felt so wild lately, so full of suffering and sadness and resistance and regeneration. I am starting to see how even the smallest rituals—a daily walk, a morning cuppa tea on my creekside balcony—can keep me rooted during this roller coaster.
Whenever I am feeling frustrated or fearful, my first instinct is to move. I know I'm not alone in this. Many of us search for new surroundings, new names to learn, new places to explore, when we're overwhelmed—even though we know, too, that if we haven't set things right in our soul, we'll continue to carry that restlessness with us no matter how far we go.
This is why I love cultivating a daily ritual the connects me to place. This isn't a place that I'll call home for much longer but it's where I am right now and it's where I've been for nearly a year. To learn how to love the present for what it is, to sink into the beauty of the world even as I'm filled with fear for her future—this isn't an easy practice but it's vital to do.
My hope for you this week is to sit with yourself and dream up a ritual, no matter how small, that can connect you with somewhere or someone or something that you've been feeling separate from. Take a walk and wonder; or turn to your journal to write. Find one thing you can do every day and be disciplined about doing it for as long as you can (and forgiving of your sweet self when you forget). Rituals for reconnection give our lives light—and during these dark days, that's a gift we need to give.