A friend saw a story in the New York Times about a man who is now 81 years old. His children are grown and scattered around the country, and he lives alone since his wife died five years ago. "When people learn you've lost your wife," he said, "they all ask the same question: 'How long were you married?' And when I tell them 52 years, they say, 'Isn't that wonderful!' But I tell them no, it isn't. I was just getting to know her.
George Elliot has written of the shared life in its fulness: "What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labor, to be there for each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspeakable memories?"
"The primary work of a rite of passage is to ensure that we attend to such events fully, which is to say, spiritually, psychologically, and socially. Unattended, a major life passage can become a yawning abyss, draining off psychic energy, engendering social confusion, and twisting the course of the life that follows it. Unattended passages become spiritual sinkholes around which hungry ghosts, those greedy personifications of unfinished business, hover."
"Deep in the Bone" by Ronald Grimes
“A powerful celebrant can help you to draw the powers of light, and the powers of spirit, into the ceremony. Perhaps a friend can do this, but better to rely on someone who knows how manage energy, ceremony, and groups of people.”
One-Two-One by Lila Sophia & David Tresemer
When we bless another, we are conveying good will to that person. I believe that positive energy is actually transferred in a blessing. You don’t need to be religious to either give a blessing or receive a blessing. A blessing can be bestowed on behalf of the Divine or simply on behalf of yourself. However, every blessing is sacramental and sacred. A true blessing lifts us out of ordinary time into extraordinary time. Blessing another can be as simple as saying—and meaning it--"I wish the best for you". The affirmation, “I love you” is a blessing Often a touch accompanies a blessing. In ancient times, a blessing was conveyed with a hand on the other’s head. Blessing goes two-way: when we bless another, we ourselves are blessed. Every life ceremony, whether a naming ceremony, wedding, coming-of-age ritual, or memorial service should include a blessing on all.
Why going to funerals and memorials services is so important:
As a child, my parents took me to funerals. I can hear my father saying: it might inconvenience you, but it could mean the world to someone else.
This message came back to me during my father’s funeral on Wednesday. Despite it being 3:00 on a work day, it was humbling and moving to see the church full of people, many of who, like yourself, did not even personally know my father. Thank you for the comfort you brought our family with your presence. It meant the world to us. Joan
When I left my church after a 28 year pastorate, the congregation threw me a big party. There was a tent, catered lunch, and testimonials. Everyone in the church was invited. It was great and I appreciate it but for me something was missing.
I think a special service or ceremony was needed. A ceremony acknowledging the end of the relationship and the beginning of something new for all of us. Besides music, hymns (my favorites, of course), and prayers, there might have been a sermon on change. Perhaps an official pronouncement of the end and an exchange of symbolic gifts. And a special blessing for all.
And then the party!
Wedding rehearsals are more than just run-throughs of the ceremony. Often a rehearsal is the first occasion families of the couple meet. Of course, even if they have met, relationships and interactions between families are usually still awkward and stiff. This is why at the beginning of rehearsals, with everyone seated, I ask the couple to introduce their family and friends present. Beside names, I request they include some interesting detail about the person introduced. And I insist people stand as they named so everyone is sure to see them. It helps break the ice and creates opportunity for new relationships. I also encourage couples to do assigned seating at the rehearsal dinner, even if very informal. Again, it's chance to help create new relationships.
Although I have performed rituals, both religious and non-religious, all my working life, I didn’t fully appreciate their power and importance in navigating life’s shoals until recently, when in a short period of time I had to face a number of important transitions in my own life.
Who do the non-religious turn for the ceremonies to mark the landmark events of their lives? A birth or adoption. Coming of age. A marriage. An important change in life such a move or retirement. A death. The anniversary of a death.
Moreover, where do even those who identify as religious or spiritual turn for ceremonies that are relevant and personal?
Where do lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people turn for their life ceremonies?
To all these people I offer a lifetime’s experience and insight in creating meaningful and personal ceremonies to cherish and remember.