I am up at 4:34 am, as we wait for the downpours Hurricane Laura is supposed to bring to NYC. There is an occasional drip-drip outside, but nothing else.

I have been thinking a lot about rituals, lately. Sometimes, rituals get a bad rap. They are considered to just be routine or things on a list we need to tick off.

This week, I had my dreaded endometriosis specialist appointment. (I love my doctor, but these appointments still make me so nervous). It has been three years since my body was out of sorts, hormonally imbalanced, and I was feeling not-so-great (understatement of the year— I was feeling the way 2020 is going— let that paint a picture).

I decided to treat my body holistically, with lifestyle change and supplements. When I first started, I was a bit lost. I was barely someone who took a vitamin on a regular basis. I am plant-based (have been since I was 13, but figured this is important to note, as I often get questions), I switched to a lot of clean products (skincare, beauty, self-care), and I started supplementing regularly with Welleco and NAC (two NACs a day has kept the endo away, for me).

And while I won’t sit here and pretend to be an MD (because I am not— but someone should give me an honorary endocrinology degree), I will say that this discipline and prayer has helped me have the endo in remission for years, now. By God’s grace, everything is as it should be, and I am feeling so much better.

As the seasons are to be transitioning soon, I have also been cleaning my house. I do these seasonal purges at home. I didn’t do one between spring and summer because I think I was so disoriented with the whole Corona lockdown, but I have been doing it now, and it has been refreshing. As I mentioned before, I think I skipped out on it last season because I was disoriented, and yet ironically, skipping this ritual made me feel even more disoriented.

Another ritual I have picked up on is that of skincare. This is something I would want to pass on to my child, along with how to be hormonally balanced. I didn’t grow up with a skincare routine, despite all the Seventeen magazines and Teen Peoples I read. I was clueless and just bopping through life. I wore sunscreen only on beach days, basically. I have come to learn that it’s important to have those pockets of time for a good face mask and regular lymphatic drainage.

Lastly, my mind went to the Sabbath. I am a Sabbath observer. Friday has always been a cleaning and preparation day. I remember, as a kid, the house smelling like cleaning product (the smell of Lysol or Pine Sol bring me true joy— not even kidding). My mom would put on music, and we would clean. I am grateful she always presented cleaning as something fun. To this day, it’s therapeutic for me. As I got older, I was oftentimes the first one at the house on a Friday afternoon, and the cleaning would begin. I was always proud of the days when I had the house mostly sparkly clean and a ravioli dinner ready for the family when they arrived.

Friday is still a general cleaning day. Yesterday, I cleaned my floors and took the trash down. I took inventory of some things that I needed to order like bedsheets (literally haven’t bought a pair in the past 3 years, and the fitted sheets are no longer errr fitted).

There are many things about Sabbath that have stayed the same, like preparing before sundown and church. I will say there are things I miss that revolve around family and are harder to do because I live alone.

I miss praying together. I miss doing Bible study with others on Friday night. I miss service projects or going to the hospital to sing and accompany people. I miss the special gathering time to close the Sabbath, where we would sing and pray together. And while rituals may be just rituals, they can also be special markers that encourage us to really connect to something.

When I supplement and move, I connect to myself. When I clean, I am typically praying for others and listening to a good podcast, I connect with God as I am preparing for a time of rest. And then Sabbath, it’s a time to connect to God but also to community and family.

Someday, when I have my own family, I will be able to celebrate Sabbath in a different way than the quiet way in which I do now. While rituals may be a burdensome routine to others, rituals are markers of care and dedication. They are pockets of discipline that can make a life better.

I share this only to say that rituals are a big part of my life. I often think about them and about how I can keep optimizing. Rituals have impacted my health in a positive way and they have a way of making me feel nostalgic. They help bring me into rest.

Rituals— they connect a life; they can mark a life; and they can save a life.

(The rain is falling, and I am gonna see if I can slip back to sleep).

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

4 thoughts on “Rituals

  1. I bet that Friday cleaning day feels good. Nothing better than to be in surroundings that befit your mood–clean and uplifted:).

      1. Many nights, I guess I have a bedtime ritual without even acknowledging it. A warm bath in Epsom salts, a little bit of a good book, and meditation before I fall asleep. It really helps :-).

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