A ritual acts on us in a way that is deeper than words, deeper even than conscious thought. The words and thoughts change, after all, the scholars of religion tell us. As it is in the history of a religion, so it is in the course of a human life: the etiologies, the just-so stories, the philosophical and ideological layering all arrive late and leave early. The act itself somehow lingers underneath it all. Like a pebble in the shoe or a warm bath, it changes our minds despite our minds.Another excerpts:
Whatever else one wishes to claim for this ritual, it is a communing with the dead. Every religious ritual is. It’s a way of putting on a self we can never be, of identifying with people otherwise lost to us, of inhabiting a past we can probably never understand. That might be the last radical lunge of this shrunken supper in a life that is starved for, if not love, then at least for connection.