Sustainable Ritual, Sustainable Support

By Carrie-Anne Moss

We build our lives every day, one brick at a time.

But do we ever ask ourselves: is the foundation I’m building on strong? Is it sustainable? Will it hold me? Are we building our lives on sand, on crumbly earth, or are we building our lives on healthy soil—soil that has nutrients and minerals that will help our life take root and thrive so that when things get tough—when we are thrown a curve ball—we have built-in support and we can withstand the storm.

The root system means that we have a life that works; that we have support around us, we have people we can lean on, and we have tools that we can lean on.

I think a lot about this when I think about the rituals I have built into my life that help to support me. At certain times, the rituals are like a celebrations, and at other times they’re monotonous. Every Friday, pizza. Every Sunday, crepes. Certain rituals at different holidays, birthday new moon altars, the full moon release. Sometimes these rituals are executed with deep love and devotion, and other times I am just going through the motions. And you know what? Just going through the motions is enough sometimes. These are the times when these rituals truly hold us up. When we don’t feel like it, when we’re weary and tired. When someone is sick, when we’re sick. In these times, we can lean on these rituals and move through them without even thinking. And in that way, they hold us together, they tie us to the structure of our life. They guide us when we have nothing left.

Photo by Leonie Wise

I remember a birthday celebration for one of my children. I have a ritual of decorating the house in a very simple way for birthdays—and although it’s simple, it’s fun and festive and it has become a tradition, as well as a symbol of love for the person whose birthday it is.  I started this when my children were young, and like any ritual that we start when our kids are young, it feels important to follow through so as not to disappoint the children. One particular August, I didn’t have it in me to decorate my house. We had recently moved and I was overwhelmed with boxes and settling in, and on top of it, many of us had summer colds we were dealing with. I was weary to the bone.

One night I was walking into the house after dinner with my family. In the pit of my stomach, I felt a nagging reminder that I hadn’t decorated yet. That I had been to tired to get it together. The feeling felt tense and uncomfortable. But we walked into the house, and as soon as I crossed the threshold, I saw the decorations. The sweet “Happy Birthday!” draped over the bay window. The candles on the table. Cece, my  friend and long-time support team leader had done it for me. Cece helps me take care of my home and family and honestly she helps me take care of myself. And in this small gesture, she took my breath away, and I will never forget it.  With tears in my eyes I looked at her and said, “Oh my God, thank you.”  And she said, “Yeah, I just thought, what would Carrie-Anne want? I’ve seen you do this year after year after year, and I just did it the way I knew that you had done it.” Cece’s love and support helps me maintain my system and my rituals so that I can help maintain the structure for my family, and for my life. Our helpers come in many forms, it’s not always just our family, or the people closest to us. Who do you tell your secrets to? Who knows what you love, or what you need? Who reminds you of who you truly are, when things feel lost or forgotten?

Support, ritual, gratitude, connection, building a life. Building a life one brick at a time on steady foundation. On a foundation that is thoughtful, that stands for family, and health, and vitality, because rituals built on sand or flakiness, they won’t sustain us. They ultimately don’t end up feeling that great either. We must listen to ourselves. We must allow our truth to settle in. Those morning crepes every Sunday give my children an exhale—they know what to expect—and we all know that when you’re little, that means a lot. And I’m here to say that as a grown woman, it actually means a lot to me, too. Pizza night on Friday nights gives me this feeling: I know what I’m cooking. I’m cooking something easy.  We are celebrating the end of the week. The kids will eat it. And I don’t have to decide anything, it’s already been decided. This feeling, I realize, is comfort, safety, and relaxation. True signs of a strong foundation.

As we’re building our lives, and we look at certain things that we may be doing that aren’t really working, we can let them go. We can grieve the passing of particular phases, but in the grief we let go. Let us not cling to what doesn’t work, and to what doesn’t sustain us. In response, we move forward in building sustainable action. Roots that feed and support. Roots that tangle in divine infrastructure. Sustainable ritual, sustainable support. Let your rituals hold you up, even when they feel routine or mundane. It is in fact these times exactly that your rituals are doing what they do best: gluing it all together with grace.