Rituals Gertrud Nelson

 Automated and Isolated and Ritual Gertrud Nelson

“We are pulled along, mesmerized and almost automated, going 65—over the

speed limit, but we keep up with the flow of traffic. We take in our fellow

travelers and learn what they want to teach us about themselves by noting the

make of their cars, perhaps the ornament that hangs over the dash, the identity

they announce on their vanity plates and their convictions and beliefs professed

on bumper stickers…. Despite all the efforts, I still register fear. It feels

impersonal. Streaming along here, we do indeed seem to be “a fragmented

society,” each of us isolated and sealed into our tins, each of us vaguely aware

that we want something more, something to live by and a way to live it fully and

in community, something beyond the business of mere survival.”

Gertrud Mueller Nelson, To Dance With God



This time-honored book of treasures by Gertrud Mueller Nelson is

an amazing story of how to bring ritual into our everyday life. Ritual

is the string that keeps us connected, the practice that puts us in

position to see the life God created us to live, the life of practicing

the presence of God. We learn and taste the many

spiritual disciplines and ritual that our traditions have taught us to connect to

God: daily prayer, community worship, contemplative prayer, fasting, study,

caring for others, meditation, praying with icons, and the list goes on. It is so

easy, however, in today’s world to connect back to that high-speed instant

technology multi-task mode and become like a Mack truck going down a steep

mountain trail without brakes (“breaks”). When someone asks me, “How are you doing?”,

and I respond, “In survival mode,” this is a sign for me to stop and evaluate if I am again

going over the speed limit. This as well can be a sign in

spiritual direction to know where a person’s life may be “stuck” in very heavy

and sometimes dangerous traffic that is leading nowhere. I see others and myself

looking for geographical cures, job changes, and vacations, but unless the daily

life, the daily rituals change, there is often a return to the madness.