Let the Current Carry It Forth: A New Year’s Ritual

Welcome New Year!

So, true confession time.  Even though being a Celebrant is my profession, I very rarely take the time to create any rituals or ceremonies for my own self!  It’s true.  I talk the talk but I haven’t found it very easy to walk the walk.  Lots of excuses – I’m mothering a toddler, we’re self-employed, too busy of course, who can find the time?  I’ve actually felt a bit ashamed about this.  I mean really, how can I go out in the world talking about the importance and value of ceremony and ritual and then not do much of it myself?  Which brings me to the two elements of today’s post: shame and ritual.

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+ amusement park wedding

Thrill Ride Celebration: Fall Wedding at Six Flags New England

This fall I had the great opportunity to officiate a wedding at Six Flags New England. Laurie and Matt were such an awesome couple to work with. They were fun and irreverent, and wanted their wedding to celebrate who they really are. That meant no stuffy banquet halls and tuxedos. Instead they had a morning wedding at an unusual and completely fitting venue: our area amusement park – and guests stayed the whole day to party and ride the rides!

The fun-loving couple

The wild and crazy couple

It turned out to be a cold, rainy morning, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. I arrived early, and got my own special thrill of getting to go through the top-secret back entrance to the park (I know, it doesn’t take much to make my day). When I arrived Matt and Laurie were there, cuing up their music. The pavilion was beautifully decorated just perfectly for fall with pumpkins and candles. Their fun-loving guests began to arrive, ready for a day of joy and laughter.

Pumpkins, candles, and fall leaves for a cozy, intimate wedding

Pumpkins, candles, and fall leaves for a cozy, intimate wedding

One of the sweetest things about this wedding were the “leaf girls”. Instead of flowers, these girls walked ahead of the bride, strewing the aisle with brilliantly colorful leaves. It was just the right touch!

What a great idea - leaf girls!

What a great idea – leaf girls!

The ceremony was short and personal and just right, with touching true stories and heartfelt vows. It is always the most special honor to hold space for such important moments in people’s lives.

Happily married!

Happily married!

Congratulations, Matt and Laurie, and best wishes as you travel together through all the Pandemonium, Flashbacks, and Sling Shots of your lives!


Walking a well-worn path – locating our stories in ancient myths

“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” ~ Willa Cather

Every couple years or so I return to a book I have owned for a while now: “Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life”, by Thomas Moore.  I always find things in there that directly apply to my life and shed some light on whatever it is I am wrestling with at the time.

This time I got caught (pleasantly) in the chapter entitled, “The Myth of Family and Childhood.”  In it, Moore writes about the archetypal family, and searches for the “myths in the ordinary roles of family life.”  The phrase that really got me thinking was this: “In many traditional cultures a person becomes an adult by hearing the secret stories of the community…”  The phrase struck me because it just so happens that I turned 40 last month and for my 40th birthday I asked each of my parents to tell me the story of their divorce.

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Honoring our stories through ceremony

A big part of why I do this work as a Life-Cycle Celebrant is that I love hearing people’s stories.  I remember many years ago trying to figure out what I would actually like to do for a living, if I could do anything at all.  And what I came up with is that I wanted to listen to people’s stories.  But how would that work, exactly?  Is that even a job?  Could I make any kind of living listening to people? Happily, I think I’ve found a way.  In fact, I am often told that the initial story-telling, where my clients tell me the story that surrounds whatever transition in their lives they are marking with a ceremony, is often one of the most meaningful elements of the whole ceremony experience.

Yarlung Tsangpo River, Tibet.  Photo by NASA

Yarlung Tsangpo River, Tibet. Photo by NASA

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+ Ceremony reconnects us

Reconnecting through ceremony

Since as far back as anyone can remember, people have created ceremony.  We honor the seasons, celebrate rites of passage, and perform rituals for healing.  Why?  Why do we take the time and energy to do this, when there is so much else to do?  Ceremonies don’t make us money, don’t put food on the table.  They can seem rather superfluous actually, to a modern-day US-er.  

Ceremony reconnects usWhen I was fresh out of college, I had the great opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps Leader.  I came together with 49 other Leaders, each of us representing one of the 50 states.  We gathered for a two-week training in service leadership, where we learned about meeting facilitation, conflict resolution, change management and more.  It was all really helpful, but one module in particular stood out for me.  It was the day we learned about how to “share an inspiring vision.”  We were given a few hours to go off by ourselves and think about our vision and then come back and share it.  It felt like such a luxury!  I went outside into a field, looked up at the shimmering blue sky and scurrying clouds.  Felt the grass tickling my skin and listened to insects chirring.  I let my mind expand; I asked for my vision.   Continue reading “Reconnecting through ceremony”