Rituals are incredible gifts to us humans. The biggest reason for this is that they provide a consistency that we can fall back on in times of grief, tragedy, or any other kind of stress. They are dependable, whether we find "meaning" in them or not - and that, ironically, is what gives them their most significant meaning.
Everyone has something that gives them comfort, whether it be home, family, partner, job, religion, spirituality, work, or anything else. But what exactly is it about these things that gives us comfort? Obviously, there are many answers to that question, but one of the big ones is that we find comfort in these things because they have consistency. We feel comfortable where we know what is expected of us, where we know what to expect. Where there is consistency, there is safety. There are clear boundaries.
Ritual provides this for us. And it doesn't actually matter if it's something you've derived huge meaning from or not. It's not uncommon for ex-Catholics, for example, to return to the religious rituals of their upbringing in times of extreme stress. We return to something that's been consistent for us when we feel out of kilter, when we have no sense of who we are in the world. Those are the times that rituals are built for.
So what rituals do you have in your life? They can be as "insignificant" as the order of your morning routine or as significant as your daily spiritual practice. It's good to be aware of the rituals in your life, and it's even better to set some up consciously. Setting up and committing to a daily ritual in your life, particularly a spiritual one, will go far in helping you through hard times because the ritual itself will not only provide consistency but will reflect you and what is meaningful for you.
Rituals that start and end the day are particularly lovely, because they are a way to signify transition times (dawn and dusk/waking up and going to sleep). This is metaphorically beautiful too, because the times when we fall back on these rituals are invariably also transition times, and so their impact is magnified in a spiritual sense. Rituals that involve symbolism are also particularly powerful, because symbolism is the language of the subconscious; thus, when you return to the ritual as a comfort measure, you receive from it not just the safety of consistency but also the underlying meaning of the symbolism.
So what are the rituals in your life, and do they satisfy you? If they don't, create new ones - preferably with symbolism - and commit to them, preferably daily. It doesn't matter what the symbolism is, as long as it has meaning for you. You could light a candle to symbolize spreading light in the world, or you could run your hands under water to symbolize letting go of worries. You could walk barefoot outside to symbolize being open to new experiences. What time do you want your ritual to be? At dawn/waking up to symbolize a new day? At noon to symbolize the transition from morning to afternoon? Before a meal to symbolize community?
My invitation to you today, then, is to either establish a daily ritual in your life or to become conscious and grateful of the rituals you already have. Life is good to us. It's so good to us that when we aren't able to see or acknowledge its goodness it gives us something to fall back on - ritual. How beautiful is that?