We recently had a tragic death in our community; a police officer was shot and killed when responding to a domestic dispute. Even those who didn’t know this officer were swept up in the community’s horror and grief. This young husband and father doing his duty to protect the community was killed through violence that we hadn’t experienced before. We wanted to support the family and support law enforcement. I think we felt helpless as we searched for ways to express this. Do we bring cookies down to the police station (some did), do we pray (some did), do we buy lunch for the police officers in the next booth (some did)? But when the suggestion came to replace the lights on the front of our houses with blue ones, they couldn’t keep blue light bulbs in stock anywhere as residents flocked to hardware stores and home improvement stores as soon as shipments came in. My husband and I felt a sense of compassion as we replaced our light bulb, but also a sense of relief. We found something physical to do, to show our support and to feel like we were part of something bigger.
Now when we drive down the streets at night, the neighborhoods are speckled with blue lights. I like to think the simple ritual of flipping that switch at night helps a lot of us heal, a simple ritual with a much bigger meaning.
Such as it is with our other rituals, long-established rituals and rituals that we create to help us along. They bring a sense of belonging to a larger community, both in the literal sense of belonging to a town, and in some cases, to a larger energy, call it the universe, call it Holy, call it mojo, it makes us pause and step away from the tediousness of the day and connects us with the act itself, making it as sacred as we want it to be.