I heard a story recently that really got me thinking. It begins, as most good stories do, with a group of French people coming to Los Angeles for a visit. Their LA hostess, eager to provide an authentic slice of Angelino life, brought them to a cacao ceremony. The visitors sat through the ceremony politely, praying over the sacred brew and sipping mindfully, meditating on their heart chakras and (I can only imagine) wondering why it tasted so different from the delicious chocolat chaud they were used to.
When the ceremony had ended, they asked their hostess in their heavy French accents, politely and with complete sincerity, “So… this is how you drink hot chocolate in America? In France we go to the café and drink it with our friends.”
As someone who spends a fair amount of time in the spiritual community, I find this both hilarious and slightly upsetting. It’s often jarring to be witnessed by outside eyes, as we can so easily fall into patterns and routines that we forget to observe ourselves through another lens. I have spent hours in sacred ceremony and have experienced and seen earth-shattering, mind-altering, heart-expanding breakthroughs in these spaces. I think that learning how to sit in ceremony and opening yourself in divine reverence to the mystical realms is a beautiful, life-changing thing.
But we also have to go out and live our lives as humans, alongside all the mundane tasks that go along with it. We aren’t really using our time in ceremony wisely if we are unable to take what we learn and integrate and embody it into daily life.
Too many people are saving the “good stuff” for ceremony when we live in a world that needs us to take the good stuff to the streets.
But how do we go about doing this?
While we spend most of our days in a fog of routine, mindlessly moving from one activity to another, we must look for opportunities to stop, ground ourselves, and become present in the moment. What would our lives look like if we could do this often enough that we lived daily as ceremony — joyfully celebrating each moment and interaction as a gift while offering ourselves to the situations and people in our lives as supplicants?
I realize it’s a tall order, but it’s something worth considering. In the meantime, opportunities abound to make this a daily practice in more manageable ways. Approaching the act of maintaining our homes as a reverential act, clearing space, and removing clutter is a conversation that has been getting a lot of attention lately. Being mindful of our environment and actively exchanging energy with it is vital to creating support for ourselves.
Look at it like a hot chocolate ceremony (actual real hot chocolate). Creating a ritual out of human interaction, inviting those we care about to sit and be present over a cup of something delicious. Taking an hour out of the day to be present in the presence of another human being and delighting in their company, celebrating the fact that we are lucky enough to be alive, together, in this moment. What could be more deserving of our veneration?
I encourage all of us to find small ways to worship in every area of our lives. Whether it’s creating a workspace that supports our creative flow, a daily walk that awakens our wonder at the beauty of the world, or an intention to make eye contact with everyone you interact with, find a way to incorporate ceremony into your daily routine. Find a way to worship at the altar of your one precious life and the precious lives of others.
It’s terrifyingly easy to get swept up in the ills of the world (for which there are many), but we must not lose sight of what is sacred and beautiful. We must honor and celebrate it, even in its most prosaic forms… for what we treat with reverence becomes holy.
Anna Lobell is an interior designer based in Los Angeles. She is passionate about the ways in which design and spirituality intersect, and the possibility for life-changing transformation they can create.