Rituals are the glue that hold together our days and weeks. Most mornings before breakfast, my husband and I take a walk up the hill to Summit Avenue where we can see Massanutten Ridge rise just beyond the city. Sometimes the mountains emerge above ephemeral clouds, obscuring everything man-made. The scene is ever-changing and lifts my spirits as the sun rises. This is one ritual that we began many years ago, so it feels like a fragment of normalcy.

Since the pandemic invaded our lives, Sundays are different. Instead of going to church at 9:00 on Sunday morning, we take a fifteen-minute walk in the neighborhood before eating a light breakfast at 8:00. During the meal, we watch a pre-recorded video of our church service, complete with lovely music, “congregational” singing, children’s time, a sermon, and meaningful prayers. Then we usually take another walk, and I do some lunch prep. At 9:30, we log into a zoom conversation with five other folks from our congregation (our small group) and at 11:00 we join an online Sunday school class. It feels like a marathon morning… I like to have lunch right at noon so we have a long afternoon to go for a hike somewhere in the mountains or countryside. We look for places where there are few or no other people. If we have gone out of town on Saturdays, we may just walk in one of the city parks on Sunday–like Hillendale or the JMU Arboretum. After vigorous exercise, it feels good to come home and read the paper, call family, or read a good book. Sundays are usually something to look forward to, but it will be nice to see people in person again–to feel warm handshakes or hugs.

The activities that are not ritual do add spice to our days. Last Saturday, we cut wood on my sister’s farm with a chain saw. They had taken down a dead birch in their yard, and my brother-in-law wanted a dead elm taken away from behind a shed. We’ll be glad for that wood in our little stove when snow flies again.

Punctuating the wood-cutting, six of us celebrated an eighty-five year-old neighbor’s birthday with lunch outside . I had known this kind lady since I was a child. And following lunch, we all watched online the wedding of my cousin’s daughter. They followed Virginia COVID rules with only fifty persons in the church–properly distanced. After the ceremony, others could drive by outside the church and give their best wishes.

It was a good weekend!

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