Must have kitchen items FREE download CLICK HERE 

RITUALS—DO THEY HAVE THE POWER TO HEAL US?

January 21, 2021 1 Comment

RITUALS—DO THEY HAVE THE POWER TO HEAL US?

I had the privilege of going to Arlington National Cemetery to attend the internment of a friend’s father who was being honored for his service. His body was being moved to its rightful place at Arlington. The ritual was amazing, but then rituals are miraculous—other worldly by their nature. The repetition of specific routines over and over, time and again to acknowledge one of life’s milestones takes on its own power. That power is what makes being part of or watching rituals so profound. 

Waiting for the service to begin, we were drawn to and mesmerized by the “soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as ‘The Old Guard,’ who stand watch over the Tomb”*1 and walk back and forth at attention to protect the tomb of the unknown soldier.

It didn’t take long to wonder how exactly this ceremony was created and what it meant. I knew they were walking 21 steps in either direction but I hadn’t realized that the number 21 was the structure that holds the entire ritual together. 

“The Guard marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns and faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, and then takes 21 steps down the mat. Next, the Guard executes a sharp ‘shoulder-arms’ movement to place his/her weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors, signifying that he or she stands between the Tomb and any possible threat.”*2

Engrossed in the ceremony I heard someone next to me whisper, “Do you know where the number 21 comes from?” I looked over to see an older gentleman speaking to me. “No”, I replied. He looked at me with a boyish smile as he prepared to explain the mystery happening before us. “It is the sum of the date 1776.” He paused, looked to see if I was paying attention, and then continued, “1 plus 7 equals 8, 8 plus 7 equals 15, and 15 plus 6 equals 21.” He nodded slightly as he watched the wonder fill my face. “It’s wonderful isn’t it?”

He proceeded to introduce himself as a US Marine who had served with the gentleman who we were all there to honor. 

I was struck by the symmetry and symbolism that made this ritual so profoundly powerful.

The miracle of rituals is that they are larger and far more powerful than the parts that make them up. We don’t need to understand them but by just experiencing them we know they have power that connects us to something universal that we need to experience.

Excited to share this memory with you, I started researching the “21” history on the internet. To my great disappointment I couldn’t find it. Instead, I found that the number 21 symbolizes the highest symbolic military honor that can be bestowed: the 21-gun salute.”

I mentioned this to my husband, Mark, who was present that day at Arlington and we got into a discussion about the symbolism and our interchange with this gentleman. Mark’s response: “He was a US Marine, I’m not sure I would doubt him, and 1776 does add up to 21!”

Maybe the 21-gun salute comes from 1776. I don’t know but it’s a good story and I’m not ready to let go of that perfect symmetry and think that it is just a coincidence.

Do you know?

Are you as moved by symbolism and rituals as I am? What are the ceremonies that are important to you?

Not Getting my weekly blog posts? Sign up HERE you'll receive them every Friday morning.  
Get the latest news on my book le Kitchen Cookbook — a workbook. 
What the publishing date will be and how to pre-order the book as soon 
as it's available.

 

*1 Quote from Arlington National Cemetery website
https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Changing-of-the-Guard
*2 Quote from Arlington National Cemetery website
https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Changing-of-the-Guard





1 Response

Adrisse Brandt
Adrisse Brandt

January 25, 2021

Thank you for sharing this amazing experience. I really enjoyed learning more about that particular ritual and loved your interaction with the older gentleman.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Blog

Easy peel hard-boiled eggs—perfect every time
Easy peel hard-boiled eggs—perfect every time

May 19, 2022

There is something perfect about cracking a hard-boiled egg and sliding your fingers under the shell so it pops away from the white in a few big pieces and you are left with this beautiful glistening egg. You particularly know how satisfying that experience is when you expect it but don’t have it. Here is how...

View full article →

IT WAS THE PERFECT PLACE TO BE—IT ALWAYS IS
IT WAS THE PERFECT PLACE TO BE—IT ALWAYS IS

May 12, 2022

Sitting at the dinner table and lingering after a delicious meal has always been my favorite part of a party. I love when the table, still cluttered with plates, silver, bottles, and glasses half-full, all shimmering in the candle light. Everyone dawdling, their voices excited while eruptions . . .

View full article →

I AM DISAPPOINTED IN MYSELF
I AM DISAPPOINTED IN MYSELF

May 05, 2022 1 Comment

So far, 2022 has shaken me to my core. It has left me questioning things I believed to be true—things I took for granted. Number 1 I NEVER thought Roe v. Wade would be overturned. That is my stupidity; the signs were obvious but I just didn’t believe it could/would happen. Number 2 I NEVER thought . . .

View full article →