Ritualizing transitions

What do a hornet’s nest, a self-portrait, a banjo, a philosophy book, and a narwhal stuffy have in common?  These were some of the many items that showed up at the church last evening for the closing mini-retreat of the Transitions and Ritual group. 

Each participant was asked to bring several symbolic objects that represent the stage/era/phase of life that is ending/fading/receding and the stage/era/phase of life that is beginning/emerging/taking shape.  Each of the eight participants had time to describe why they brought their particular objects and how they relate to grief and gratitude for what is coming to a close, and aspiration and intention for what is coming into view. 

Each person was also asked to name this new phase they are living into.  These names included Intimacy, Fruitful Ordinariness, The Paradoxical Expansiveness of Finite Time, Early Elderhood, and Myself.

This has been a two-month process.  We began at the end of August with an opening mini-retreat and have met for five Sunday school sessions.  We started broadly, discussing different ways of thinking about life transitions and mapping out some of the most formative and difficult transitions we’ve experienced so far.  Eventually each person narrowed their focus to one transition they are currently undergoing.  Last night’s gathering was our way of ritualizing that transition together, witnesses to one another’s journey.

It’s a great honor to be let in on the inside of another person’s life.  Especially during these pivotal times when small shifts have accumulated into something that needs a new name. 

The worship service this Sunday will have a transitions focus and will be led by these eight folks.  It will include a time for the congregation to offer our blessing to them in their honoring of what has been, and their receiving of what is next.