In other times, our communities gathered continuously in a round of ceremony that marked our birthing, our growing, our marrying, and our dying, and lots of important moments in between. These days, we still manage some of these events, but our opportunities for gathering are disparate and uneven – because of distance, blended traditions, diverging beliefs, and competing interests for our time and attention. Some of us have abandoned traditional practices, left religious institutions, and find ourselves at a loss when life-changing events present themselves.
Yet, we still crave connection. I believe there is not only a deep human need to share those moments in our lives with others, but to process them – to see them within the context of a life lived. There is powerful medicine in sharing life’s moments in the presence of community – those times when day to day life stops, and we pause in recognition of something bigger. Modern ritual is an opportunity for reconnection, for rebuilding our relationships; with time, and passage, with each other, and with the meaning of our lives. It can remind us of our ancestors, it can reunite us with nature, it can help us tune into the cultural and spiritual beliefs that give us our sense of hope and humanity. Whatever our beliefs, values and dreams are.
The human capacity to take whatever life dishes out and to come back is never to be underestimated. How amazing it is, knowing we are all going to die anyhow, that we are so determined to live as well as we can, no matter what. For all our little deaths, we defy our fate and come to life again and again, and yet again. Daily, we get up and go to work in the construction business of building and repairing and remodeling a life— Robert Fulghum
When we acknowledge our lives as a worthy of attention, we are saying, hey, before this moment slips away, let’s look at this. We slow down. We breathe deeper.
To create a ceremony to mark an occasion is a profoundly creative and satisfying act. It is familiar, and timeless and absolutely fresh. It is how we change our lives.
We stop to praise and celebrate love. We gather together, to rejoice at new life, we encourage and celebrate one another as we move through passages of age, work or relationship. We bear witness to the crossroads in our lives. We say good-bye.
And when we do this in community – well, that’s when we really start to sing.