Since lockdown, every Sunday evening at 6pm my wider family comes together on Zoom. We didn’t speak this much to each other before the pandemic!
I tried to move the call to 6.30pm once because of something else I was doing but despite everyone being willing, somehow it didn’t happen. The call was fixed in our minds for 6pm and that was that.
We haven’t formally named it, but we’ve created a ritual. I send the link to everyone on Sunday morning. A few minutes before 6pm we all log in, generally in the same order, check everyone is okay, have a catch up, then log off.
A ritual is a sequence of activities, performed in a prescribed order. They are powerful. They can achieve a lot for us. We can use them to link to others, to provide an anchor in the face of uncertainty, to give us a sense of control, to connect to our emotions.
Clapping for the NHS every Thursday has been an extremely powerful ritual for the nation. People have come together on their street each week and there is no doubt it has been emotional. Ask anyone who has taken part and they will tell you about the sense of community it’s engendered, and I’ve seen plenty of people in tears as they take part.
Last year, my daughter performed plenty of rituals, big and small, as she finished Year 11 at school. She spent a day getting her school shirt signed by everyone in her year. She planned for and attended her Prom. It all meant she could come together with her year group, acknowledge what they meant to each other and recognise the sadness that everything was changing, that it would never be the same again. This year’s cohort does not have the same opportunity.
Repeating rituals, turning them into a fixture of life can increase their power but what really counts is to name it as a ritual.
Perhaps it’s now more than any other moment in the pandemic that we need to be thinking about rituals. Lockdown is relaxing. We are being encouraged to venture back out into the world. All sorts of organisations including schools and businesses are being asked to open up. But it won’t be the same as before. We will have to socially distance. Some will be frightened of catching Covid-19, frightened of their loved ones catching it. Some might experience the enforced distance as excruciating. Some might want to hide. The options are almost endless. As the furlough scheme is phased out, there will be job losses. Some are predicting more than 6.5 million jobs will go in the UK.
I’m, hopefully, going to return to the Cottage Therapy Centre where I work with private clients in July or August and it’s going to be weird. There’s no doubt the environment will be different. I’m not sure what the impact of that will be but I know I don’t want to just turn up and get straight on with it.
I’m thinking about a possible ritual. It’s got to acknowledge what is was like to leave so suddenly, the experience of working at home over Zoom and I want to slow down and notice what it feels like to return. Then I want to find a way to metaphorically lift my head and look to the future. It may involve memories of key moments, pictures I have taken and a little yogic intention setting. I haven’t decided yet and there is still time for me to work it out, but I have noticed that even reflecting on it has anchored me.
What ritual are you and your team going to enact to mark this period of life.