“Take Comfort in Ritual.” I saw this phrase appliqued on the door of a local coffee stop. A simple marketing slogan that has stuck with me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I‘m a ritualistic type of guy. I like routine and predictability. I do enjoy a bit of mystery and have been known to be spontaneous – even a little silly. But I find there’s something restful, peaceful and calm about doing the same things, the same way. Patterns, cycles and seasons. Waking and sleeping. Getting and receiving. Work. Purpose. Life. Death. Some rituals are unavoidable. Some painful. Boring. Heavy. Intrusive.
Is this too much musing over a slogan? Seriously. The coffee shop owners just want me to make a habit of drinking their brew. To find comfort in a daily visit that adds to their bottom line. But maybe what grabbed me in the slogan begs for more from me.
Coincidentally (or providentially depending on your perspective) I ran into an excerpt from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy last week. It had nothing to do with coffee, but did speak to ritual. Here’s Chesterton:
“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.
It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun: and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”
—”The Ethics of Elfland,” chapter 4 in Orthodoxy.
Oh to have more joy in God-ordained monotony, to cheer quickly and often, “Do it again!” I am grateful that each morning Jesus Christ is “doing it again” – in me, in my family, and in the world around me. He hasn’t turned His back. He hasn’t quit. He is predictable yet mysterious. Monotonous yet exhilarating. I take comfort in His ritual.