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What Ritual Does...

Part Two: Ritual Extends the Depth of Our Imagination.

Ritual takes the familiar and enlivens it with our imagination. 

Consider it this way, you have a favorite dance or song or prayer. The reason we can dance it, sing it, pray it, again and again is that each time our ingenuity takes the work to another dimension. Each time we feel, express, and see something new that we did not experience before. It is this aspect of ritual that makes it meaningful and alive and different from a routine. 

Each time we engage in ritual it comes alive with the genius of our imagination. Ritual can even begin in our imagination and blossom through its application. We imagine a portal, a doorway in liminal spaces and to our delight, the ritual affords the opportunity to be in liminality and create. So, during the ritual there may be revelation, illumination and even inspiration that touches our spirit so that it becomes real. The ritual has moved from a familiar intent, or action, to the manifestation of our imagining. 

With practice, we become fluid in ritual making and always expect our imagination to do what it does. In this way, ritual maintains the integrity of being in the present while reaching into the unseen (imagination). Because we are intentional in ritual, it also creates a kind of authority to dreaming and imagining. Ritual helps to declare that what we dream, what we imagine, is as much a part of our collective covenant in Spirit as the faith we have in our Creator and Ancestors working on our behalf. 

So, do ritual; do ritual to imagine deeply!

Itihari Y. Toure

About Itihari Y. Toure

Dr. Toure’s career spans all levels of education, from pre-school to higher education with a special focus on theological education. Her work in education and developing educational institutions in both the community and the church has resulted in the formation of seven independent Black schools, African centered Christian Education curricula, programs in higher education for Black women seminarians and clergy women and the significance of “sacred memory” (Sankofa) as a transformative element in Spirit Work. Dr. Toure’s most recent projects included work in curriculum and evaluation for several initiatives funded by the Lilly Endowment. Her work has supported the integration of a culturally responsive approach to addressing call and vocation, congregational work, and ministerial excellence. Dr. Toure also has a long association with the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference Inc. (“SDPC”) and she will provide assistance in the development of curriculum and programming related to the recently launched Center for Reparatory Justice, Transformation, and Remediation, a joint venture established by McCormick and SDPC directed and led by Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary of SDPC. Dr. Toure comes to McCormick Theological Seminary after completing her nine-year tenure at the Interdenominational Theological Center where she initiated and directed the Sankofa Center for Data Evaluation and Quality Enhancement. Dr. Toure is an ordained Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and previously served as the Educational Director of First African Presbyterian Church in Lithonia, GA. She has served as an Accreditation Liaison with the main accrediting agency in the southeast, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.

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