The right to rituals

College instilled in me all kinds of habits (which include falling asleep in public and eating when I’m bored). Most ingrained in me is the obsession with creating rituals as aids to make it through the week. I know to the outsider chips and an over-sized chocolate bar do not look like particularly ceremonious but they are definitely rituals. Friday night would not be the same without them.

Anyone following my fairly pathetic facebook updates may have the misguided impression that my life revolves around my poor nutritional choices (I say this as I sit between an empty box of short-bread cookies and a recently demolished bag of knock-off M&Ms).

(Mom and other concerned adults – I do eat at least two squarely healthy meals a day and get as many fruits and vegetables as other people in this country).

The fact is that many of my “rituals” involve food. The yogurt cup I eat in my office at school every day because I don’t have time to eat it before I run to the bus. The cheap pizza slice I buy before Czech lessons on Wednesday for dinner. Lunch. Every day, same time.

I don’t know if I like the consistency and stability or if I just really look forward to eating food, but these little things help get me through difficult classes, long days and trudgerous weeks (yes, I made that word up. Couldn’t even tell, could you?). Maybe it’s just nice to know that no matter what the week will bring, some things won’t change.

You may say – and some people have – that I shouldn’t eat food for comfort, that it’s unbiblical. God should be our only source of peace, etc. There’s a book on it. It’s a long theory that I can’t fully explain right now because I just really want to finish this and go to bed (<–I do care about you, Readers, but I think I like sleeping more… It’s complicated).

But let me invite you into one more ritual and you’ll see why I don’t agree with the idea that we should only eat food for sustenance (ie – not for enjoyment, comfort, etc):

Frozen Yogurt.

Time and budget permitting, I partake of the miracle that is semi-sweet, cold, soft-serve goodness once or twice a month. Usually I do it before my evening Czech lesson. Usually I’ve had a long day.

I was really surprised to find frozen yogurt in Prague because it’s kind of an American thing. It’s definitely a California thing at least – I don’t know if the rest of the country is on the band wagon yet.

In ninth grade my best friends, sister and I would walk to the fro yo place near our friend’s house. We’d sit and talk about … gosh, I don’t even remember what. We felt so grown up out on our own.

Now I’m teaching ninth graders and my best friends really are grown up. Well…We’re out on our own, at least.

So when I get a cup of frozen yogurt and I curl up in an empty booth alone, I think of my friends and my home. If I’m really homesick, I’ll add Boba because I know my sisters would, or pistachio and coconut because I know my dad would.

I even got a stamp card so I can get a free frozen yogurt once I’ve proved that I come here too often – if I was this consistent with my homework in college I would have had a much better GPA my last semester.

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I know that we shouldn’t eat because we’re lonely and that food won’t fix our problems. But I also know that God gave us earthly joys and it is okay to be temporarily comforted by them if we don’t lose sight of our true Peace.

This little ritual, as silly as it may sound, is one of the highlights of my month. For ten minutes I am back in San Diego with my childhood pals, my family and one of my favorite foods. And when the plastic spoon scratches the bottom of the cup, I can stand up and head to Czech class knowing that some things never change – the love and provision of our God most of all.

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3 thoughts on “The right to rituals

  1. Completely agree. Some people would call these things guilty pleasures, but I honestly see nothing to be guilty about.
    Odd story: my mom and grandpa were doing something the other day, so I got to hang out with my grandma for the afternoon. She has dementia, and it’s kicking in pretty bad. She can barely talk, and mainly just repeats everything you say. Normally if you give her choices she always says no, but when I asked her if she’d like to go get frozen yogurt she said yes. So we went in, I chose the flavor for her, and then she put on a very strange assortment of toppings. When we sat down and started eating it, her face completely lit up. She would take a bite, then look up at me and smile for a second, then look back down and take another bite, repeating this until she’d finished her cup. Every time she looked up her face looked like she was 5 years old, utterly filled with joy and contentment to be alive, not a care in the world but that delicacy in front of her. For the rest of the afternoon she was in characteristically peppy, and she was even able to formulate a few full sentences and engage for short periods of time.
    There really is something magical about that frozen yogurt stuff.

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