Ceremony

Re-imagining scriptures for liberation, inclusion and action
Re-imagining sacred stories for liberation, inclusion and action.

Ritual, at its most powerful and transformative, is intentionally designed to embrace and change the people who are present. This is possible when we design with heartfelt authenticity– bringing a community of people together in common intention and imagining with care the ways we achieve the goal together.

Even how we open and close our meetings as part of non-profits and social justice movements can be enhanced with rituals of silence, gratitude, prayer or meditation and intention-setting. Ritual, when it is relevant, is revolutionary. (For a taste of that, check out “The Protest Chaplain’s Handbook” made by friend and colleague, Abigail Clauhs.)

My spiritual roots are in Unitarian Universalism. Professionally, I identify as an interfaith spiritual care provider, informed by a reverent ecological sensibility, depth psychology, mysticism and a love for multiple and diverse ways of meaning-making.

Weddings

ceremony2
By Linda Abbott Photography (http://linda-abbott.squarespace.com/)

Weddings are capable of transforming the entire community involved– and they can be designed to do so in ways that are inclusive, participatory and enjoyable for the couple and for the people you gather around you.

I’d love to officiate your wedding! I am available to officiate in California, with particular attention and skills for inclusivity, inter-religious ceremony,  a capacity to care and advocate in situations with challenging families, imagination and intentionality. I am not available for weddings that exclude LGBTQ community members, rely on  gender stereotypes, or make demands of “obedience” between partners. These just don’t jive with my theology or my sense that what makes marriage sacred is that it is a freely chosen partnership where we practice what it means to deeply love the world as it unfolds within and between us and our partner.

Wedding of Aaron Hill and Laura Smith
Wedding of Aaron Hill and Laura Smith

After you email me, we’ll arrange time to speak over the phone or in person to share ideas and feel out what ceremony you are looking for. This will be followed up with an emailed set of questions and an in-person meeting to begin our initial planning and sharing of possible language, rituals and readings– I will provide you some starting points, links and materials and plenty of collaborative brainstorming.

For most weddings, I spend 15-20 hours preparing your ceremony: from brainstorming with you and your partner, collaborating with necessary vendors, attending rehearsals and ceremonies, etc. On the week following your ceremony, I will submit your completed marriage license to the Office of the County Recorder. This is fun, believe me!

Rituals and Ceremonies for Daily Life and Important Moments

coming of age
Photo by Cooper Bates Photography

I am also available for consultation or creation of ceremonies and ritual. Most of my experience is centered around women’s ceremonies/coming of age for both young women and women who are elders. Honoring these important changes in our lives is a missing element to a healthy, regenerative culture that values the aging and wisdom process. My own young adulthood was highlighted by the diverse adults who came around me as a teenager and celebrated my development as a young person– with good food, good stories and good wine.

Other ceremonies also include ceremonies of grieving– the loss of a job, a marriage, an identity, a move to a new community, the life of a loved one or friend. Our non-profits and social movements can build in practices that ground and sustain our work, deal with conflict or address change. Going through or anticipating a change? Let’s recognize it.

Preaching and Guest Speaking

speak
Photo by Katy Gutierrez, Press Conference

I have served as a guest preacher across California for nearly ten years. My sermons often include the re-telling of the “told”: stories that we think we know and that define our lives and culture, but can be revolutionary
when explored from new perspectives.

The way of ceremony in our congregations and non-profits also invites new interpretations: how can ritual enhance our speaking? How do we engage our listeners as participants? We can remember our traditions in ways that bring them back to life, just as we can re-invent new rituals to address the issues that we feel as people alive today.

I have served as a story-telling speaker in small gatherings,  keynote to conferences on mental health, community organizing, spiritual activism, nonviolence and sustainability in California and India, as well as a keynote preacher of religious gatherings of Unitarian Universalist social justice leaders and ministers.

To consult about ceremonies, ritual or speaking/preaching, use the Contact Me page.

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