• Sandy Reynolds

A Ritual of Hope: Offering light in the darkness

I don’t need another reason to love paper planners but I discovered one. Physical calendars provide a tangible reminder of the ending of the year. There is no next month after December. It’s over. There are no more pages to turn. A fresh blank book is waiting for next year. This year’s planner is full. It’s a bit of a mess actually. It is well worn. My planner is part scheduler, part to-do list and part journal. I tend to make notes through the year in it. There are new days to remember and carry forward now. There are anniversaries of deaths and new birthdays that were not in my calendar at the beginning of the year.

One of my favourite notes I made in my calendar was beside an event I had planned to attend for all the wrong reasons. The day of the event I woke up feeling quite ill and had to cancel. Beside the event I wrote, “the body knew.” It was a recognition that my body carries a lot of truth, if I am willing to listen to her.

If you want to learn how to get better at listening to yourself, try building more rituals into you life. Spending time intentionally focused on something in your life can give you a lot of insight into what is happening to you physically, emotionally and spiritually. It gives your soul a way to catch up to your body.

One of the rituals I have reclaimed from my past is celebrating advent. I’ve tried not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. (And I know that sounds weird when we are talking about a spiritual practice.) I love advent because of what each of the candles represent. I love the idea of a of focusing on hope, love, peace and joy in my life. I love to make time each week to light a candle and hold space for each of those virtues in my life and for the people around me.

This week I am lighting a candle for hope. Everyone needs hope. Hope has to do with the future. It’s about believing that things will get better. It’s holding on to the idea that no matter what is happening in our lives and in our world right now, things will improve. We hope for better things in a world where we are continually being confronted with disasters and fear mongering. We need hope because life is difficult. You have pain in your life and so do I. At times, your difficulties can overwhelm you.

I believe that hope is something that we can do for each other. When I feel hopeless it is often a friend, who gives me perspective. It is my community that gives me hope by supporting me and by helping me explore the possibilities in the situation. And sometimes, just by laughing at the absurdity of life. I invite you to join me. Light a candle this weekend and hold space for yourself, for your loved ones and for our world that the best is yet to come. You can pray or meditate. I like pray that specific people will find hope in their situation.

This year, I intend to sit with my calendar. I want to remind myself of all that happened in my life and in the lives of the people around me. I want to spend some time being grateful for the experiences. I also want to spend some time holding space for some friends who have had a difficult year.

And as a special practice, offer hope to someone you know who is going through a difficult time. Take them a hot chocolate, take them out for lunch, write them a note, send them a text or an email. Reach out and tell them that they aren’t alone. It may be the best gift they get this Christmas.