I initially had a difficult time with this prompt, at first when I thought about a ceremony I pictured a formal occasion celebrated with a large group of people. After reading, Kimmer’s story An Offering I had a different understanding of what a ceremony can be. Kimmer describes a ceremony as something that “reminds me of who we are; it reminds me of our gifts and our responsibility to those gifts. Ceremony is a vehicle for belonging—to a family, to a people, and to the land.”When I started thinking about ceremonies in this way, about how they can be something to show reciprocity with the land, I thought about the time I have begun to spend outdoors in my daily routine.
Each morning, I have a long walk to get to the university. I used to fill this time by listening to music through my headphones. The music helped me to pass the time but it also made me oblivious to my surrounding. Practicing stillness at the beginning of this semester was helpful for me because it reminded me that I don’t need to escape to the mountains, or be in the forest to feel connected to nature. There are ways of having this connection in my daily routine in the city if I take time to remember and appreciate my surrounding. Now on my morning walks I make an effort to leave my phone in my pocket and instead I try to pay close attention to what’s happening around me. When I walk past a tree I find myself thinking about the the exchange of breath between me and the green beings. One day as I heard birds chirping in the tree branches above me, I began to wonder what the day of the birds looked like. What places will they fly to today? How many other people will notice their chirping? Somehow even though I was reflecting on how different our days were from one another I still felt a connection to the birds. We happened to be under the same sky breathing the same air. In this way I felt a connection to my environment and I felt like I belonged to this land.
On the weekend I have begun taking my younger sister on walks with me to the park and around our neighbourhood. On our walks we always bring a plastic bag to pick up the litter we come across on these walks. This is similar to Kimmer’s experience with her mother who “ had her own more pragmatic ritual of respect: the translation of reverence and intention into action.” Kimmer’s mother ritual of respect was to “leave the place better than you found it.” I try to reproduce this ritual in the places that I visit and try to encourage those who I am with to be a part of these rituals.
For my art piece this week, I wrote a short poem following one of my walks. On this particular walk I recall being in awe of the setting sky. I placed the poem over the photograph of the sky so that I when I come across this poem again I don’t forget the feeling of gratitude I felt that inspired me to write the poem. The poem is a prayer, it incorporates my gratitude for the beauty and resilience of the natural world around me, my gratitude for belonging to this land and my hope that the nature around me continues to be a source of happiness and hope for me and others that shares this land.