Rites of passage mark the most important and meaningful moments in our lives. These are the few times that we are sanctioned to stop – one of few times when we are encouraged to think about the meaning of our transitions.
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Rituals have the power to change the way we think. To plan a symbolic event in a sacred space is to give metaphor to life: all in one moment, rituals express our deepest needs and simultaneously sate that need. Think of ritualistic bathing, which takes place in so many world religions in the form of wudu, ablutions, mikvahs, and baptisms. In the Christian ritual of baptism, so much is communicated in one moment: the body is shocked by the coolness of water and cleansed and wetted, but because meaning is placed on it, these physical feelings of cleanliness and shock mark a religious transformation that is felt by the baptized as if wearing a new skin. Mikvahs are a weekly bathing ritual, out in the freely flowing water and segregated by gender. How lovely, to once a week enjoy fresh water and friendship. A simple ‘getting in the water’ therefore has the power to clean our bodies and spirits, stop time, bring us closer to the sacredness of earth and water, and to mark our passage from one state into another.
And think of all the rituals that haven’t been thought up yet!
Our ceremonies can and should be unique to us, all the while honoring any traditions of our families or cultures that mean something to us. I give a great deal of energy to rites of passage, for I see that ritual is powerful, and these ceremonies are sacred spaces that mark the changing of relationships, the ends of lives and relationships, and the beginning of lives and families.