Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Welcoming Ceremony

Since I want to save my update on my first week at work for the next weekly post, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you about the Welcoming Ceremony we are having for Turtle next week. Although I am not religious, I believe very much in the role of ceremony in our lives. Especially in the fast paced world that we live in, it is often times too easy to just let life fly past us. Ceremonies force us to stop and really savor important milestones in our lives, acknowledging that this moment in time is sacred and our lives will never be the same.

This is why I love weddings so much. It's one of the few life transitions that our society formally recognizes for both the religious and the non-religious alike. But having a baby as an atheist/agnostic is a different story. There is no justice of the peace to officiate your Baby.... I mean what do you even call it. A Baptism? Obviously not. A Dedication? No then people think it's a religious alternative to infant baptism. A Blessing. No, still too religious sounding. Thankfully, I have a wonderful friend who is very well versed in life "off the beaten path". :-) While I was pregnant I talked to her about my thoughts and struggles finding something that felt right. She was the first to use the term Welcoming. It was perfect! Just like our wedding, I wanted this to be an opportunity for our community, and therefore Lily's community, to come together to welcome it's newest member.

So, I turned to my trusty Google and was excited to find lots and lots and lots of alternative baby ceremony ideas! With Google it's always about finding the right search terms. I started with an open mind. Reading about various ceremonies that people had created, and I started making notes in a Google Doc. Just like our wedding, I was able to see the ceremony slowly take shape over the course of a few weeks. I will be forever grateful to the officiants and participants who were willing to put up the text of their ceremony. I read over a bunch, copying and pasting the things that really struck me and then edited and edited until it really looks nothing like any one ceremony I read. Here's the basic flow of there ceremony.

Upon entering, everyone will be given a river rock to hold in their hands and warm with their blessings as the ceremony takes place.

We'll start off with an introduction, then move into a "naming ritual" where she is officially presented to the community for the first time and her name is announced. We explain what her name means and a little about why we chose it.

Then we start with the blessings and the vows. I wanted this part to have the feel of water rippling outward after a stone is thrown in the water. We start with  Jay and I since I'm a firm believer that the parents are the foundation of family (parents being used not in a strictly biological sense and without regard to gender even). We will have a chance to reaffirm our commitment to each other and to supporting each other in our new role as parents. 

After that we'll affirm our commitment to Lily, acknowledging that she possesses her own unique gifts and promising to raising her to find her own path. Then we widen the circle to include the grandmothers who are asked to commit to sharing their wisdom and experience.

Then we widen the circle even more to include the rest of the community. I feel very fortunate to have friends and family who have such unique lives, opinions, beliefs, etc. and I fully plan to take advantage of that as Lily grows up and wants to explore different things on her life's journey. So, we will be asking our community to commit to giving Lily the benefit of their diverse knowledge and experience and to support Jay and I in our role as parents and Lily's grandmother's in their roles as well.

Everyone will then be asked to come up and place their river rock (which they have been warming with their love and blessings, you remember) in a bowl of water. This water will then become "sacred", consecrated not by an external Deity or power, or because a person of faith says so, but by the love and commitment of her friends and family. This water will then be used to bless her starting with her head and working down to her feet.

Then the community is thanked and the same Irish blessing that was read over us at our wedding will be read over everyone as a benediction. Then we'll eat!

Since we are majorly short on cash right now, I'm keeping the food simple. Cupcakes and soda/milk/coffee. I've found some super cute ideas for making cupcakes that look like owls and I'll probably make some cupcake picks to stick down in others.

As for decorations, again, we are super tight on cash so It's going to be minimal. But there's a project I've been wanting to make for the nursery and decided it would be perfect as decoration for the party. So, that became the motivation I needed to get off my butt. I cut out triangles (bunting) from the patterned fabrics I used in the nursery and then letters out of solid brown. I'm going to string them on ribbon and it'll say "Grow wise little owl". I'll hang it over the main table for the ceremony and then it'll move up into her bedroom over her crib. I may bring down the owl lanterns I have hung in the nursery as well.

So, that's the story of how our Welcoming Ceremony came about. I can't wait for this Saturday. I've been thinking about and dreaming of this day for almost a year now. I really have to find the power cord for our video camera because I definitely want it on tape and then I promise to upload it to YouTube and post it here. And I'm sure there will be lots and lots of pictures!

Have a great week everyone!

1 comment:

Jr. Mint said...

The ceremony sounds like it will be incredible! Lilly is incredibly lucky to be born into such a loving community. I can't wait to meet her (in person).