Friday morning, Cyndi and I woke up together, after two snoozes on the alarm, and we immediately made the bed. It’s something we seldom fail to do no matter how busy our morning. I think we’ve made the bed every morning since we first got married. We even make the bed when we know our housekeeper will come and change the sheets later in the day; we’ve been known to do it when staying it in a hotel room. It seems important to maintain the practice.
Occasionally, like last Friday when we get up at the same time, we make the bed together, one on each side of the bed. That is the exception, however. Mostly one of us does it by ourselves, whoever gets out of bed last.
I doubt I ever made my bed when I was a young boy. I don’t remember even noticing, much less caring about it. It became a habit for me, and also for Cyndi, when living in a dorm room in college, when all of life happened inside that small cramped space and a messed-up bed made the space seem even smaller.
The practical reason we make the bed every morning is because it’s so much more pleasant crawling into made bed at the end of the day than to crawl into a mess of sheets and bedspread.
The spiritual reasons for making the bed? It’s a small move toward consciously being present, noticing and settling our surroundings. It’s one way to take ourselves seriously, and an attempt to shape the day by starting it off with structure and aesthetic.
Lately we’ve adopted a new wrinkle, so to speak, in our habit of bed maintenance. Whichever one of us goes to bed first, before we climb in, we remove the show pillows and turn down the sheets on the other side to make it easier for the other person. It’s a welcoming gesture, I suppose. And if Cyndi crawls into bed first she usually also turns on my reading light.
Leonard Sweet wrote in Soul Salsa about the “rituals of our lives that help us grow our own souls by modulating the mundane into the eternal.”
I showed that quote to Cyndi and asked if she thought we had any rituals? Making the bed was the first thing she thought of. We probably had more rituals back when Byron and Katie were younger and lived at home with us. We certainly had a more predictable routine. Nowadays our rituals are mostly about taking care of each other.
Besides making the bed, we thought about this: when either of us leaves the house, we don’t just yell “goodbye”, or leave and expect the other of us to know. We find each other and kiss goodbye, even if only making a quick errand run to the grocery store. Maybe one reason is because we are fully aware of the dangers in our world and how something sudden and fatal could happen to either of us so we what to at least have a last kiss goodbye. But I doubt this is the main reason. We aren’t that fearful or fatalistic. I think it has more to do with acknowledging the importance of each of us in the other’s life, of recognizing existence, saying, “Yes, I see you.”
I don’t know if this is a ritual, but I’m crediting it as one: I won’t, that is to say I can’t, walk past Cyndi, whether in a crowded hallway or an open room, at home or at Rosa’s or at church, without brushing against her, dragging my hand across her back or her bottom. I try to be subtle and I doubt many outsiders notice it, but I do it every time. Why? I’m touching base; tagging up; reminding her I’m close; even more, that I notice her. I’m saying: I see you and I’m drawn to you and I’m still hot for you.
Here’s another: we eat at least 99% of our home meals in the kitchen, with no distracting TV, even if we’re just eating a quick sandwich. Only occasionally will we eat in front of a movie, or a ballgame, or our laptops; a dozen times a year at most. I’ll admit that some of you who know us are shaking your head and wondering: When are you at home and NOT eating at Rosa’s or Jason’s. That would be an accurate observation. I don’t think we have any rituals for restaurants.
However, I would add that Cyndi and I pray before meals, whether in public or at home, a practice we both learned from our families and it is definitely a sacred ritual. It’s a pause to recognize God as Lord of our lives and giver of all things, and acknowledgment we have been blessed.
Sometimes when we are eating with other people who don’t have the same praying ritual, we will look at each other and let it pass. It isn’t our desire to make our companions feel awkward or uncomfortable. But just last week we were having dinner with a friend in San Angelo and she wouldn’t let us pass. She said, “Oh, you two always like to ask a blessing for the food, don’t you,” as she grabbed our hands.
Maybe it’s presumptuous to equate making the bed or kissing goodbye with rituals of our faith, but I feel like they are. For Cyndi and me, our biblical faith is tightly woven into our faith in each other. Sweet wrote, “The challenge of discipleship is to make one’s own life a sacrament, a sign of love and grace, a sacred gesture inserted in a world flaunting other gestures.” I believe our small gestures are indeed spiritual practices, disciplines we stick to so our hearts stay soft toward each other and toward God.
How about you? What rituals do you have at home?
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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