Finding Solace in the Sacred: Ritual, Simplicity and Robust Hope

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by Laura Koens

Turning away from the Industrial Growth Society and its sole focus on economic advancement is inevitable and necessary for us to witness the beginnings of a Great Turning our earth so desperately needs. As we turn and return to both new and ancient ways of understanding life on earth, it becomes increasingly important to prioritise practices and knowledge that preserve and develop our moral imagination and emotional fortitude. Ancient cultures and religions the world over offer us the knowledge that solace can be found in the sacred, strengthening our relationships with ourselves, one another, and the earth. Returning to the sacred will see a reprioritisation of rhythms and rituals, a return to simplicity, and the cultivation of robust hope. 

Photo by Laura Koens

The deeper we enter into sacred simplicity, and into a sense of slow noticing, the more we may begin to notice rhythms and rituals that sustain us individually, collectively, and eco-systemically.  Being immersed in the rhythms that exist in Deep Ecology puts our creatureliness into perspective, and our simultaneous insignificant and vital role as a part of the whole. The sustained ritual of noticing may support us to sit with this paradox rather than wrestle with it, freeing our energy to reconnect to the collective in new and invigorated ways. Noticing and cultivating rhythm and ritual can restore harmony, as they call us to live into hope; to live into the interconnectedness of all beings and all things The rhythms of the earth call us to recognise and reconnect with the sacred that exists in the everyday; in the face of our neighbours and of strangers, at the soft centre or at the jarring edges, in delight and in deep grief.

The extent of biodiversity loss occurring as a result of the Industrial Growth Society’s prioritisation of profit is causing many of us to experience periods of extreme grief and feelings of loss. A (re)turn to simplicity can contribute to a shift in consciousness which will see our work and lives become more sustainable, generative, and restorative. There is a sacred element to the everyday, as offered to us in the beauty, delicacy, and infinite strength of the natural world. Engaging in practices of gratitude for Earth, and for the Great Turning we are witnessing, can be as simple as spending time with trees, noticing seasonal shifts, and paying attention to the resilient nature of changing ecosystems all around us. 

Photo by Laura Koens

Cultivating hope in the midst of profound loss and grief can seem impossible; and some days it is, for the losses we are experiencing, witnessing, and expecting are widespread and overwhelming. For this reason, our sacred practices of simplicity, rhythm, and ritual, must incorporate an element of lament in order to be sustainable and transferrable, and in order for us to develop a robust hopefulness that will build resilient individuals and communities. Individual and community grieving and lament has long been modelled by ancient cultures the world over, with practices that incorporate lengthy periods of time and meaningful actions that make grieving an embodied process. Just as grief can be embodied, so also hope. When we return to the sacred practices of rhythm and ritual, we put our literal bodies in the way of hope, binding us together to create new systems that see us incorporating the wisdom of all peoples and cultures.

The sacred dwells within each of us.

The sacred dwells within each of us, and is accessible through our connection to ourselves, to one another and to the earth around us. The rhythms and rituals that make up each of these micro- and macrocosms are simultaneously simple and deeply profound, calling us to notice their interconnectedness, and our own connection to the greater whole and to one another. May we enter into practices of radical simplicity, profound lament, deep joy, and a robust hope that will surely buoy all things, no matter what the future holds. 


Laura lives and works on the lands of the Binjareb and Whadjuk Noongar peoples, now known as Jarrahdale, Western Australia, on a small hobby farm surrounded by forest. She is a photographer and freelance writer of essays, poetry and articles, as well as mother and caregiver to four children. Inspired by the values and practices of The Work That Reconnects, her life and work draws on the beauty of the land’s nature, the complexity found in relationships, and the Divine that resides within both.

Recorded by Rebecca Selove

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