People seek community during times of transition. One of the important roles of religious community is to mark the transitions in our lives with ritual and rites of passage.
I have been honored to memorialize the lives of people across the lifespan who have died, from a young mother to an elder. At this tender time, I am honored to work with loved ones to craft a celebration of life that can include meaningful rituals like candle lighting and sharing memories. The story of a life can be told through music, poetry, readings, photos, and art. Each celebration is as individual as the person who has died. A memorial service offers those who are living the opportunity to celebrate the life of a loved one, grieve their loss and all the losses we have experienced, and reflect on the meaning of our own lives.
I have dedicated children as part of a worship service and in a private ceremony, welcoming them in to the world and in to our community. When I served, the UU Fellowship of McMinnville, lay leaders and I created a multi-generational Mother’s Day service that included the dedication of five young ones. This was a lively, joyful and beautiful service that celebrated connection across the generations.
I have helped craft a Coming of Age service with youth at First Unitarian and a bridging ritual at Winter Eliot, a UU family camp in the Seattle area. The youth and I worked together to honoring this important transition as a celebration for them and for our faith community.
I have officiated at a number of weddings and I really enjoy the creative process of crafting a service that is meaningful for a couple and their families. Typical ceremonies include meaningful music, poems or readings, and intentions and promises shared by the couple and sometimes by those gathered. I have been honored to help create services that help bridge the cultural divides of religion, politics, class, and ethnicity.
A spiritual community also marks the passage of time and the transitions of seasons; a Fall in-gathering ritual like Water Communion, Solstice services, Christmas Eve services, Easter, Flower Communion. Whatever the rituals and traditions of a congregation are, it is important that we mark them. It helps us to slow down, notice the passing of time, and acknowledge the big questions of life that transitions bring.