Building is a profound act. It is the point where the built environment –our creation, man’s creation, meet’s the natural environment, God’s creation, Earth. In the age of creating a more sustainable environment however, is a groundbreaking enough? What if a more in-depth ritual were to become a part of each building site? An example of a ritual associated with Earth, and which could be transferred to building, are Rogation Days, a ritual blessing rarely used today. Initially a Christian substitute for the Pagan celebration of Robigalia (see endnote), Rogation Days were observed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Ascension Day, and were days set aside to bless the fields, crops, plantings, and livestock and to ask for God’s blessing on Creation and the upcoming growing season. In many ways, it was an annual celebration and reconnection with Earth, God’s gift to us, as well as a reminder of the interdependency all creation shares.
Transfer this to a groundbreaking ceremony. What a wondrous groundbreaking ceremony it would be, to traverse the building site, glorifying its flora and fauna, its creatures, and its waters. What too, would it be like to say thanksgivings to all the same that would be removed to make way for the new building, recognizing what they have given the land and us. In effect, we would know and become more deeply connected to the site and to the land upon which we are about to build. It would no longer be just the building site. In addition, a similar ritual would be held for the completed building, giving thanks for the resources being used by both the building and its inhabitants, and also recognizing how the building sustains and nurtures its inhabitants as well as flora, fauna and creatures residing on the building site. The building would no longer just be an object either. Rather, it would begin to become a true manifestation of our experience and establish a deeper connection to Earth.
Maybe it's me, but a golden handled shovel just doesn't seem to be enough anymore.
Endnote: In Roman mythology, Robiga (meaning green or life) along with her brother, Robigus, were the fertility gods of the Romans. Her festival is the Robigalia and is on April 25. (From Wikipedia).
Image: University of Wyoming groundbreaking ceremony, October 5th, 2007