This is a ritual that can replace the Unity Sand Ceremony or the Unity Candle Ceremony. It's a beautiful, artistic expression. Each person and/or child has a vase full of glass crystals. After the ring exchange, your crystals are combined in a larger glass vase. The combined crystals are then mailed back to the artist who will create your glass art sculpture. Once you receive your glass art, you will have it to display in your home for years to come. Here's the link for the website https://www.unityinglass.com/
Photos courtesy of Ryan Williams.
Many years ago, I learned the phrase - "he/she fell off the wagon". I learned that it related to alcohol. If someone was sober for some amount of time and then decided to have a drink, they "fell off the wagon". The other day, I had the phrase "I fell off the Spiritual Wagon" come to me. It seemed to completely fit the way I felt and can be summarized into this explanation: I behaved in an unloving way, I shut down my emotions, I withdrew from my heart. Generated from being over tired, avoiding grief, avoiding the cries of my soul (whether it has to do with my own stuff or the stuff in the world around me). If I let grief build up, then it ultimately results in me becoming an emotional train wreck and look out if you get in my way as I can behave in a very ugly, unkind way. Also, I may start to feel ill or experience different aches and pains in my body. My body is a great communicator to get me back on track, the track of my heart. I'm grateful that this evolution has become shorter as I have developed more of a relationship with myself. Sometimes, I can see it coming and it's like - oh yeah! I forgot to love myself, this is what it always, yes, ALWAYS boils down to. I'm hurting because I've been overworking and I'm overtired, I haven't spent enough time having fun, I haven't reached out and asked for love, I haven't spoke the truth about how I'm feeling about things going on in my personal world or the world around me. In my early years of self exploration if I lost my way, it would look like me abusing substances, being overly sexual, overspending or overeating, and/or raging at anyone and everyone who got in my way. Then I would feel horrible and I would furthermore get out a 2x4, use it against myself, telling myself how awful I am. Today, after years of meditation, self reflection and surrounding myself with healthy role models, reading and studying how others live a happy fulfilling life and re-programming my mind with loving song and mantras, I can more easily recognize when the darkness takes over. It generally looks like me trying to control someone in my life - typically my husband or son (God help them!) as they are the closest to me, it may even disintegrate into me yelling at my dogs. Inwardly, I have a crying inner child and when I get quiet, I can hear her. Then my work is to sit and cry and nurture myself with an open heart. I ask for help from Source - God - Angels - Spiritual Warriors and then I sit. And I ask, what are you sad about dear one? Usually it's because I feel lonely, unloved and unwanted. It becomes all about self empathy. Then, memories will come through, grief over my ever changing impermanent life. One such recent grief has been that of my 18 year old son becoming an adult and making his way out of the nest. This change has generated deep sorrow, feelings of loss and it encourages me to further research other losses that I have had. I've also noticed that whatever age he is at gives me an opportunity to look at my life at that age and ask, how might my life had been different? Heavy? Yes. Necessary for me to become whole? Yes. It's part of my spiritual evolution. There may also be grief over the intense changing times we are living, the violence and hatred such as the radical extremism that seems to be prevalent in our society today or intolerance. Then I become whole again and centered in my heart. I then can see the world through my heart, return to joyful memories, gratitude and experiences of my life that are inherently good. The next step becomes to offer light and grace to others who cross my path. Of course, I ask for forgiveness from my family or anyone else I may have harmed in the process of getting to a more open heart. The chant that comes to mind for this process is: I will be gentle with myself, I will love myself, I am a child of the Universe, being born each moment.
What's your process? What signs do you see that you've fallen off the Spiritual Wagon?
As a ceremonialist, I have found that it means different things to different people. The question I have distilled it down to is: how do you find peace in the world? Some people find peace through artwork such as music, dance, sculpting or painting, others by being in nature or star gazing, many by practicing yoga or meditating, more through religion or studying teachers who have long since passed, and some by simply spending time with their family or beloved. For other individuals, peace may be found by giving back: taking action through love or service. Recently, I heard a very interesting perspective on this, this individual defined spirituality as a relationship with their soul verses a relationship with the self. He said the relationship with self was ego based and the relationship with the soul was spiritually based. It reminded me of a quote by the mystic poet Rumi, "Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.” So, how do you define spirituality?
Photo by Heather Kadar
Jen Paul, Life Cycle Celebrant, Ordained Minister, Wedding Officiant, Life Coach, Death Doula