Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ceremony and Ritual

Two friends have asked me to officiate their wedding ceremonies in October. I am honored... and surprised, if I am honest. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be doing that, I wouldn't have believed it. I mean, not that it's unbelievable, but I just hadn't considered it. I love ritual, though. It is a very powerful thing. It is also a creative outlet for me. To create a ritual or ceremony that is custom designed for a person's specific need or rite of passage is beautiful and transformative. It is a great passion of mine to sit with a person and explore what is meaningful to them, what questions drive their lives, and design something for them that is uniquely their own.

Before I married my present and second husband, I did a great deal of soul searching. I was absolutely clear that this marriage must be something new, something quite unlike what I had believed and experienced marriage to be prior to that. I also knew that in this new marriage, I must put myself first. Sounds selfish, doesn't it? ...At least to our larger, traditional culture. But it is my truth that all love, caring, connection, respect, support, and nurture comes from within. It is a direct result of how I love, care, connect with, respect, and nurture myself.

So, I set about designing a ceremony where I married myself first, and promised to never leave me. I created the words I wanted spoken, chose the readings I wanted read, and the design of the ritual which was a Native American Medicine Wheel. I even chose a totem or symbol to remind me of my commitment to myself. It was a ring, the symbol of a circle with no beginning and no end. This ring goes on my finger before my wedding ring from my husband. That part is very important to me. In retrospect, I believe many of my friends didn't really understand what I was doing or what it meant. I think they thought it strange. But I knew what it meant, and that's what mattered. I wanted them there as family and as witnesses.

As a result, the wedding ceremony to my husband, Michael, felt true and free... an accurate and authentic fit for me and who I have become. And it was fun. Imagine that. Fun and playful. In fact, the wedding march was trumpeted in with white Kazoos, the best on the market. I did my research. The recessional was the song Mrs. Robinson, by Simon & Garfunkle, from the movie The Graduate. My husband is 17 years younger than I, and that little detail was a bit of a hurdle for me.

My father had died some years earlier, so I asked my handsome and fabulously-funny-best-girlfriend, Matthew, if he would give me away. To which he replied with a devilish grin, "Oh Honey, I've been wantin' to give you away for a long time!" Walking across that beautiful meadow to our circle of friends, with Matthew on my arm and me in my 'fire engine red' gown, was perfectly joyous.  Michael and I had co-created the perfect ceremony for us. It was a Celtic Hand-fasting with words that were true fit.

Life is constant change and transition. Who we were is not who we will be in a decade. What we hold dear and feel passionate about changes as we gain wisdom of experience. I believe stress is really fear of the constant change that we experience as humans. Having a tangible experience, a ritual or ceremony to mark those transitions, helps us move through those changes with beauty, power, and grace.

1 comment:

SSnowden said...

I love you.