I quickly got out of the car and ran over to my son who was holding his elbow, shrieking like a banshee and tears the size of hot air balloons fell on the driveway.
"I am going to die!" he yelled between short hiccup breaths "I, Am, Going to, Dieeeeeeee!"
Like any first responder I scanned the situation, looking for clues to what happened. The wagon was put in its place. The basketball was in the garage. The water gun still embedded in the grass.
My scan of the situation was interrupted by my son's continued cries and now physical body crashing into mine.
"I am going to die! Oh. Ouch!"
"Son, what is wrong? What happened? What is wrong with your elbow?"
"It is bleeding! Owie!"
"You have to move your hand. Let me see so I can help."
That sinking feeling that something was very wrong started to set in. Why was my son acting this way? Did he break his elbow? What is possibly causing this much pain?
Kneeling down, I pulled him close so he could sit on my knee. The volume of his voice was just a decibel short of shattering my eardrums but I could not afford to cover my ear with my hand. You see every parent of a five year old knows that while generally weak, the fingers of a child are so difficult to remove from being clenched that it takes a pound of butter and three spatulas just to pry one finger up.
As I was able to pry off his fingers I could see the cause of this problem.
"It's bleeding! OWIE!"
"Son, calm down. It will be okay. You see, it is not blood it is chocolate."
"OWIE! It hurts!"
"No, really Jude calm down. It just just chocolate that smeared on your elbow. It is not blood."
Through all the yelling and screaming and drams of the situation, my son was not able to hear this was just chocolate. He was convinced he was in pain and hurting. And you know there is no reasoning with a five year old. Five year old children eat bread but are convinced the crust is of the devil and must be cut away. There is no reasoning with a five year old who is convinced that something is not right.
The only thing I could think to do was to do the ritual.
I applied ointment and a band-aid and kissed his chocolate smeared elbow.
Once the ritual of making boo-boos go away was all over, the tears dried up and the pain was all gone. My son was back out playing in a matter of moments.
There is a power in the ritual of healing that cannot be overlooked.
Poke fun of those who have their own rituals for their pain all we want to but let us not forget that we all have our rituals that comfort and sooth us. We all use rituals to heal us even from the wounds that no one believes are real wounds. We all have the ritual. And we all know the power of the ritual.