Other Life's Events
Rituals are an essential and basic means for human beings to give themselves and others the necessary messages which enable the individual to stay human. They communicate acceptance, love, a sense of identity, esteem, shared beliefs, solemnity and memorable events. Any ritual contains a tender and sacred moment. For in that moment a gentle sensitivity bring us out of the normal flow of life. We in fact step out of our routines. We touch an event that is truly precious. In a ritual we are participating in something that is profoundly symbolic. We allow the depth of what we feel to shine through and we enter into a mystery that touches deep into the human spirit. This in turn moves us into the heart.
In a funeral service we are touching something deeply extraordinary. We share in a rite of passage. It belongs to our tradition, to our culture; it is not prescribed by any one religion but comes from a yearning that is inside all of us. It is found when we move beyond meaning because life only has meaning when we perceive it as a mystery.
We confront a mystery that in time we will all come to terms with. I love those words of Dostoevsky “I want to be there when everyone suddenly understands what it has all been for. All religions of the world are built on longing and I am a believer.”
In a funeral there is the need to capture the essence of the departed person. This involves their character, their spirit and their legacy. I set out to plan this with what the family wishes. The collaboration of family and friends is vital. It is to honour the departed in the most appropriate way. The bereaved are given samples of readings, poems, music and a format for a method of making a eulogy.
This ceremony, in western culture, goes back to Roman and Greek practice in pre-Christian times. A child was not a member of the family until the celebrant had named him or her at the naming ceremony. We decide to bring this child into our family, to bring him or her closer to all of us. All are reminded of the concern and the great responsibility involved in bringing up a child and to recognise and appoint those who will have an important role in the child’s development. A certificate signed by the parents, godparents and grandparents record the event. The symbols used in this ceremony are rich and they are explained in the process of the ceremony.
A naming ceremony acknowledges the role of parents and the closeness of their little one to them. We are joined together as a community. We are there because we are friends of the parents and their children.
Reaffirmation is a ritual which includes renewal of vows. This has great significance and meaning for a married couple. Recalling a commitment made in the past and lived out over the years allows a couple to reassess their relationship and the blessings that have flowed from it. At the same time it serves as an opportunity to cement their love in a manner that endorses the depth of their commitment to one another. It is also a way of expressing gratitude to their family and friends for the support, loyalty and love shown them over the years.