“Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
The language of ceremony gently advocates for us to be the change we seek, laboring with our turmoil from the inside out. Ceremony and ritual grant permission for life to be expressed in an authentic and truthful way within a safe container. Creativity is unleashed, collaboration is encouraged — offering up a human experience of the sacred.
Since Norman Vincent Peale’s best-selling book, The Power of Positive Thinking, was first published in 1953 up to the recent staggering success of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret; significant attention has been paid to the notion that positive thoughts can be powerful magnets to attract health, wealth and lasting fulfillment. Our society seems addicted to this world view — achieving success, finding happiness and getting there as quickly as possible. Sometimes, we attribute fault or lose patience with those who are mired in life’s ‘in-between’ times.
We look to rush through the transitional periods because these are the times when we feel confused and uncertain. No one wants to feel stuck. From a young age we’re conditioned that it’s good to get where we’re going. Modern technology, by its’ very nature, encourages this perspective. As a result, we do our best to avoid discomfort, doubt and indecision. 20th Century European Ethnologist, Arnold Van Gennep, best known for his studies on the rites of passage in different cultures, describes liminal space as the threshold where a person is leaving one world of status and being inducted into another. The in-between is the space where the boundaries dissolve and we find ourselves figuratively standing between one place and the next. While marinating in the unknown when our life is changing, we can also choose to focus on the process and what we hope to create and magnetize to us as we find our way through to the other side.
When I think of some of the in-between times in my life – exploring career change, ending a relationship, mourning the loss of a friendship, and one of the most heartbreaking – sitting at my dad’s bedside as his body began to fail; I remember feeling I could no longer locate or identify myself in the same habitual ways I once safely relied upon. These were uncomfortable periods, shadowed by the unknown. No one ever said to me; “Stop. Rest. Welcome this time. Pay attention. There are riches here for you to unearth. Breathe. Sit. This in-between time is precious and beautiful too.”
I will collaborate with you to create a ceremony that marks and honors the transition you are experiencing. This can be a private ceremony if that is what resonates for you or one where you invite family and/or friends to witness and support you. You might desire a compassion ceremony to commit yourself to self-care, or a ceremony to deal with bitterness, disappointment, resentment or jealousy. Sometimes you have to acknowledge the dark to let the light in. Or you might be up to a shout-out ceremony where you claim ownership of your new ‘self’.
Poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen says in his song ‘ANTHEM’;
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Unlike Johnny Mercer’s cautionary advice to us in his song lyrics; ‘You gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and …don’t mess with Mr. In-between…” we can choose to honor “Mr. In-Between” by celebrating the returning and absolute periods of change during life with personalized ritual and ceremony. Ceremonial tribute offers a meaningful context to experience the precious mystery of life and share this experience with others.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama XIV