Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Five: Celebrating the Seasons of Life

Another advert for a TV programme that has caught my eye on the UK's Channel 4 this weekend is called Love, Life and leaving; and is a look at the importance of celebrating the seasons of life through ritual and in the public eye, hence marriages, baptisms and funerals.
Over at RevGalBlogPals, Sally from the United Kingdom reminds us:

"It is the first of May, or as I have been concentrating on dialogue with folk interested in the new spirituality movement this last week, it is Beltane, a time to celebrate the beginning of summer. The BBC web-site tells us that:

Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year.
Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.
Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.

I believe that we live in a ritually impoverished culture, where we have few reasons for real celebration, and marking the passages of life;


1. Are ritual markings of birth, marriage, and death important to you?
Yes, very much so. Birth -- I have no grandchildren as yet, but now a round dozen of grandnieces and -nephews. Most have not had, and probably won't have, any sort of religious ritual for welcoming them to this earth and family. The baby shower or Welcome Aboard party has substituted for that but the emphasis seems to get displaced to the presents at these events. Maybe I should come up with something?
Marriage -- well, I'm waiting for the day when Cordeliaknits and Leslie can have a real wedding -- maybe not so far off and possibly even here in Maine!
Death -- the best funerals I have been to were both sad and hopeful occasions. I don't really understand what seems to be a trend where I live, there are a number of obituaries that say "At the request of the deceased, there will be no funeral services." Nothing. I think this must be very hard for the family and friends.

2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.
I've been to a lot of Lutheran funerals, given where I used to live and the person and family I've chosen to share my life with, and the Commendation section at the end seems just about perfect to me. I don't have "the green book" nearby at the moment but the words include "a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming."

3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?
As I mentioned in #1, a ritual for welcoming a baby when the parents either are not religious or have a faith different from the family at large.

4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how?
My daughters used to celebrate the Winter Solstice a bit, and of course there's Hallowe'en. But I would probably enjoy more of this, though I'm not going to be worshipping Bel today.

5. Celebrating is important, what and where would your ideal celebration be?
I like family reunions, whether holiday-centered or otherwise. So my ideal celebration would have to be at least four celebrations, four family reunions for my father's and mother's side and my husband's father's and mother's side. Probably it would be best not to have them one right after the other, though!

I'm off to South Carolina this morning (with a stop in Atlanta first) to reconnect with my oldest friends, an annual celebration. We might not think we have rituals, but cooking together, watching sunsets, the annual bookstore trip ... maybe we do!


Rev Honey said...

Have a wonderful time with your friends. Sounds like wonderful, life-giving ritual to me!

revhipchick said...

wonderful! i totally agree with you about the trend of not having a funeral. recently i was speaking with a man who's dying about what he wants afterwards. he mentioned not having a funeral and i explained how the funeral is for the family and friends to celebrate his life and morn their loss together. i also encouraged him to talk with them about how they will be feeling and what they will want. it was difficult but so great to have the chance to talk with him about it.

enjoy your ritual celebration with your friends! terrific post, thanks for sharing!

Sally said...

Great play, in total agreement abt the need for a welcoming ritual for a baby.

Have a wonderful trip.

Purple said...

Great play...enjoy the rituals you will be participating in with good friend.

Word Verf: parde (i.e. par...ty)

mompriest said...

Delightful!! Have a great trip....

Onkel Hankie Pants said...

Not being as avid an obituary reader as you, I had not seen: "At the request of the deceased, there will be no funeral services."I am, as usual, ambivalent.

I empathize with “the deceased.” Perhaps his or her attitude could be summarized thusly: “I’m gone – deal with it. If you want to savor memories, that’s your responsibility.”

On the other hand, as is obvious to those of a liberal bent, the funeral is for the benefit of those still-alive folks who attend. So why not have some fun at my (deceased) expense? An articulate homily and entertaining music for free? Good deal for my friends and family, nicht wahr?

Amanda said...

My Father-in-law has said he does not want a funeral. And because my mother-in-law is so devoted to him, if he goes first, and it's up to her, there won't be one. However, he's a well-loved & respected member of our community. Not having a funeral, where people can grieve, pay their respects or just reflect, seems a travesty. He's a simple man at heart, and doesn't want the fuss. What he doesn't realize is that he won't be there to 'stop' us. Funerals aren't for the dead, they're for the living. And when I go, there will be a funeral. And I don't care if it's a huge party, but ya'll better be wearing black & be pretending to be sad! :)

SonShineIn said...

Well, your son and daughter-in-law are going to be celebrating a quasi-pagan rite tomorrow with the Heart of the Beast May Day Parade. One daughter may get to enjoy the festivities as well.

Also, this year I wound up at an impromptu Walpurgisnacht/Beltane fire (more in honor of a couple of freinds' birthdays, but still).

Also, son and DIL had a great time at the May 1st immigrant rights rally. Marched and marched and chanted and sang.