Life Transitions and Celebrations ~ Rituals and Groups

Life is constantly in flux and each of us goes through many changes and significant events – sometimes joyous and desirable, sometimes painful and not wanted, and sometimes a bit of both. Honoring and celebrating our lives, whatever happens, helps create for us fulfillment, beauty, and meaning, to appreciate each moment, and gives us strength and wisdom to accept life changes and to engage them creatively, rather than reject and resist them.

Ritual helps us to do this, according to Angeles Arrien, to “support the changes [we] are experiencing and create a way to ‘fit things together” (the root meaning of the word ritual). Barbara Bijou says that “in every ritual, we connect to something larger than ourselves, evoking a higher force to be with us. Thus we are able to bring a sacred feeling to ordinary events, transforming them into times of quiet reflection and connection.” She also says that rituals “slow us down,… keep us centered in the present,… [and] allow us to deal with the past and envision our futures in a very healthy, directed way.”

As a ritualist and celebrant, Rev. Gary helps people to fit things together and be more healthily engaged with their past, present, and future. Beginning with the creating of sacred space and clear intention, he custom-designs and leads participatory rituals that contain one or more of the following: prayer, blessings, reflection, conscious breathing, guided visualization, stories, music, movement, and many symbolic objects. These include candles, food and drink, earth, precious stones, flowers, photographs, bowls, clothing, and much more.

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Here are some of the life transition events that Rev. Gary honors through ritual:

Baby Blessing and Naming

“The purpose of a blessing ceremony for a newborn is to consciously sanctify the entrance of a soul into the world, that this soul might walk through their life remembering their true essence. It is to give thanks for the miracle of new life, to support the mother and father in stepping into parenthood consciously, with love and clarity. It is to acknowledge the sacred role of others in the child’s life – e.g. grandparents, godparents… and to acknowledge and honor the interconnectedness of the child and family with the larger community, and even with all creation.”
(Rev. Miranda MacPherson).

The act of naming a child is symbolically seen as bestowing on the parents a “sacred trust – to enter into partnership with God [or whatever we call that which is greater than ourselves] to care for and watch over the life, growth, and welfare” of the child, according to One Spirit’s Rev. Diane Berke.

Rev. Gary’s Baby Blessing/Naming Ceremonies honor the miracle of a new life with some or all of the following:

  • Opening Reflections and Candle Lighting
  • Meditation
  • Honoring of grandparents and/or godparents
  • Prayer for the parents
  • The Naming
  • Parents Reflections and Prayer for Child
  • Honoring of any siblings
  • Inspirational Songs (generally quiet music)
  • Ritual (e.g. eating of orange and garlic; touching of baby’s foot with warm water)
  • Community blessing of the family
  • Final blessing

Other Life Transition Events to Honor

  • Getting Married ~ See “Reverend Joy” Weddings
  • New Year ~ Click here for 12-31-15 Blog entry about this ritual
  • Partnership ~ Renewal & Support; Ending and Transformation (Spiritual Divorce)
  • Birthdays
  • Coming of Age
  • Housewarming
  • Empty Nest
  • Reunions
  • Healing an estranged relationship
  • Loss of Job / Retirement
  • Loss of Home
  • Reaching Elderhood

Click here for “Marriage Closure and Transformation” ceremony

Transitions Group Work – “The Joy of Change”

Rev. Gary will be facilitating a group for embracing the transitions in our lives, for ages 45 and up. Changes such as loss of job/retirement, empty nest, divorce, death of spouse or parent, and health issues can bring on much grief, worry, fear, confusion, and a feeling of “stuck-ness.” And sometimes those closest to us, aren’t there for us as we would like.

The Joy of Change group is a shared journey of exploration, and a deepening of appreciation, joy, and understanding about that which is no longer in our lives, and that which is to come. In a sacred and safe space, and through rituals and practices such as celebration, forgiveness, guided visualization, meditation, prayer, link to that which is larger than ourselves, and expressive arts (journaling, movement, collage, etc.), we will be supported to accept what has changed in our lives and be able to move toward a new vision of the future that calls us. In this way, we grow forward with greater balance, wisdom, integration and peace in our lives.

We are in this together.

  • In-person in Rev. Gary’s office, and online
  • 6 sessions, every other Tuesday night, 7-9 pm
  • Maximum 12 people
  • Suggested $20 per person donation each session

For more information on Rev Gary’s Life Transitions and Celebrations – Rituals and Groups,please contact him at (802) 229-1165 or gary@reverendgaryshapiro.com.