Humans mark time. It is one of the things church does well. We create the factors ripe for thin space. We write liturgy and build ritual where we can see, touch, ingest, and internalize the fleeting holy. We hold space to say things that need to be said. To plant signposts on the path. To make tangible and visible the love of God and our faith community.
Annually when tenth graders affirm their baptism, I cry watching family and friends lay hands on the youth, reminding them how loved they are. On the Day of the Dead, we bring in objects saturated in meaning and memory and tell stories that invoke our ancestors. On Break the Silence Day, I attended a service for survivors of sexual violence, which started with a confession of church leaders. I sang. I lamented. I was wrapped in a prayer shawl and prayed for in my brokenness and healing.
In COVID, we are challenged to be creative in our marking. For the graduating seniors at our church this year, we designed an online ritual for them and their parents. We had a safe outdoor party with a meal, story sharing and games. We did what we could with what we have.
In September, with changes in child care and COVID schooling, I made the hard decision to resign from my church job. I went from the one creating COVID rituals for people to the one needing to mark an ending. Now, when I am the one feeling the lack of marking, the loss of community, it is a reminder to get to the heart of what ritual does.