With the closing ceremony of the Olympics complete, we’re now released from the 2010 games. We take the stories with us, but it’s time to move on.  A closing ritual helps us go forward when something good is over. The games are declared closed, but the ceremony also points toward the next host city, and the gathering four years distant.

The pair of opening and closing ceremonies marks a container for the experience, elevating the events they frame. We need a moment at the beginning to say, “Let the games begin.” It helps us see the undertaking as part of something larger. We need closure at the end, a way to hold together the diverse events in a unified experience, making them part of us before we let them go.

Our lives hold many small rituals for beginnings and endings: lighting the Christmas tree, the last night of vacation, baseball’s opening pitch, a minister’s benediction, housewarmings, graduations, groundbreakings, memorials. We set those times apart because we know they’re important. At the same time, we are reminded they’re important because we set them apart.

Even our simple routines at the day’s opening and closing matter. These rituals reassure us as we gather strength in the morning. In the evening, looking back on our efforts for better or worse, they help us put the day to rest. Sunrise and sunset, though they rarely delineate our waking and sleeping, nonetheless offer a relevant ceremony. They form a vessel that contains our lives—a day—to lift up for a blessing, or healing, in grief or gratitude.

A day has meaning. It’s what a life is made of. So I’m considering ways to mark the day’s opening and closing with a small, sustainable, and meaningful ritual.

Does it work to make one up or does it need to evolve naturally? How does a ritual become meaningful?