Back to Nature (Published on - Nov. 4, 2005)
Take time for all life’s smallest rituals
Photo by Rick Tremmel
Pumpkins are a traditional symbol of harvest celebration.
Come with me and dance under the light of the moon. Take the hand of a child and walk to the edge of the sea. Did you see the moon this week? Oh my. Greet the morning with your eyes wide open and then close them to drink the sun’s warmth upon your lips. Hold your fingers tight around your cup of coffee letting it warm your hands and remember how the warmth of love feels. Take a deep breath. Take time for all life’s smallest rituals. It’s these smallest rituals that life is worth living for. It’s these smallest traditions that wars are fought over.

Will you lie upon your death bed and pine for the little red dress you were unable to purchase or those glass knobs that were so perfect for those kitchen cupboards? What in life is really important? Of what are battles made, fought, won, gained and children lost? It seems the smallest rituals we hold so dear and are willing to defend and sacrifice all life for are the very same ritual celebrations we overlook, don’t make time for, or simply forget. Where do we draw the lines in the sand?

My dear mother spent her happiest hours in her garden. It was her muse, her joy, her religion. It was where she spoke with Creator. It was where she fell upon her knees in reverence, just to hold a handful of moist soil and imagine the life it held. She believed in this, but in the moment that she realized life was escaping her, she turned her eyes away from her garden.

“I don’t want it to remember me this way.”

What a statement. Her garden had become such a part of her celebrations in life, she realized that she was a part of it. She didn’t want that beautiful garden of lilies, peppers, tomatoes and wild asparagus to remember her except with hope and joy.

“Life is a celebration,” she was often heard saying.

At this time of the year, religion and tradition bring out opposing theories on which holidays should be celebrated or whether to banish all holidays so as not to offend any one group. When I raised my children this same issue came up in the schools concerning celebrations. One group felt it was sacrilegious to celebrate Halloween. Another group felt it was offensive to celebrate Christmas. Another group dug in their heels: “What in the world is Kwanza? Why should my children have to celebrate something they have never even heard of?”

The community’s final response and decision was to celebrate all traditions and holidays. Wrap lesson plans around the traditions of all peoples. Integrate science, math, reading, writing, history, language and the arts by utilizing the literature, history, inventions, technology, folktales and myths of all cultures. Their decision was based on the open minded theory that life is an opportunity of a myriad of little joys.

Most holidays are in their very essence nature based: the coming of winter, planting time or the end of summer and harvest, the longest day, the longest night, equal daylight and nighttime, springtime, new years, mid-winter and so on. Civilizations have created ritual celebrations around these naturally occurring events.

Why not make room in our lives for all life’s festivities?

So dance barefoot in the dusty soil. Bring your boots and I will wear my moccasins. Light eight candles in remembrance and I’ll light my sage. Walk with the saints while remembering healing and joy. Burn your incense, send up your prayers and I’ll make a tobacco prayer tie and hang it in a memorial tree. Bake a batch of pumpkin cookies and put fresh seeds out for the birds. Wear your skirts of calico and I in soft leather. Work together as a team for a common cause.

Take time for all life’s smallest rituals. It is these rituals in life that are worth living for, back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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