I'm not particularly in favor of doctrine or creed, ordination, the elevation of holy texts, the institution of church, or, for that matter, Christianity. Like most religions, it has irreconcilable shortcomings and an unforgivable history. What I do favor is the attempt to make sense of things by living within a story. The Christian story, for good or ill, is my inheritance.
He loved the darkness and the mystery of the Catholic service--the tall priest strutting like a carrion crow and pronouncing magic in a dead language, the immediate magic of the Eucharist bringing the dead back to life so that the faithful could devour Him and become of Him, the smell of incense and the mystical chanting.
Dr. Murray points to the Nazarite system as what he calls an external scaffolding supporting human efforts at righteousness, reminding the participant that he is set apart. Christ, he said, needed no external reminder that the Father was His joy and that wine was not, that He was Life and was wholly Other from death, that He bore on Himself the shame that long hair but vaguely pointed to.
It is possible to induce incorrect notions of cause and effect in most people in just a few minutes. All that is necessary is to expose them to rewards which they believe they are generating based on their actions when in fact the rewards are randomly awarded. People will latch onto any seeming success and repeat it, even when they have to explain repeated failures as well. It appears practically impossible, or at least very rare, for humans not to be influenced by immediate experiences of concrete results. This is true even if the experiences turn out to have limited theoretical validity. The moment of surprise is not when people repeat alchemical failures but when they begin to do something else.
When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?
This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.