Rituals of Remembrance 4

“Rituals are cairns marking the path behind us and ahead of us. Without them we lose our way.”  Robert Fulghum

How do we keep a seat at the banquet table of our lives for those no longer living? What rituals connect us to the great cycle of life and death? How do we kindle the sparks of remembrance in an amnesiac culture? In this installation of stories from my Celebrancy blog, two ways I marked the recent deaths in my own life.

24 Points of Light ~ When I arrived at the Orphan Wisdom School earlier this spring, my friend and classmate Carrie Stearns said she had something to give me. Carrie knew that the lack of a funeral for my Dad 15 years ago was part of what had drawn me to my work as a Celebrant, and that my friend Marcy’s death a year ago was still much on my mind and heavy in my heart. In the envelope she handed me were two richly colored paper stars she’d made: one for my Dad, one for Marcy. She said she’d be making one for Bill too, my friend who lay dying back home as we gathered in the Ottawa Valley. Read more.

Earth Altars“…beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.” Louis Kahn, architect (1901-1974). Several years ago, Amber and I backpacked over a pass in Tucson’s Catalina Mountains. Dropping into the top of a stream-carved canyon, we set up camp by a waterfall above an inaccessible pool. At the far edge of the pool, on a large flat rock, the makings of a fire had been laid. Bundles of twigs, broken into even lengths, neatly stacked. Tinder surrounded by the scaffolding of a fire that sat unlit. I could see no path to the rock; there were no signs of who had prepared the fire or why. Read more.