I know I've gotten a bit of a reputation for being a tad on the "out there" hippie spectrum. I was catching up with a friend last night and we were talking about our marriages and religious views and I joked that I've really become a pagan since Mom got sick. I've fallen in love with rituals, with marking the changing of the seasons, and changes in our lives, intentionally. So many things we do without realizing the meaning behind it or without taking the time to absorb it.
I used weddings as an example: in most cultures, there is a period before the wedding that is sex segregated. What are now bachelorlette parties started out as preparation for the bride-to-be to talk with other women about the changes she was going through, transforming her identity from maiden to lover, creating a safe space before entering the unknown. It's important.
The same goes with marking other life cycle events. Another dear friend, a new mother, wrote to me after I posted Bruce Feiler's essay and told me how much she thought his advice could cross over to friends and family members of new parents. How it's essential to mark such a significant shift with caution, respect and love.
Summer solstice is upon us: four days away. I always have trouble sleeping around the "turning of the wheel," the times of year when things shift from one season to another. I have vivid dreams and often wake up very early in the morning and can't fall back to sleep. My body feels the shift and is unsettled. It's been happening to me for as long as I can remember, but I never really understood it until this year. And now I embrace it. I feel connected. I am connected by unseen forces to my family 3,000 miles away: by love, by worry, by pride, by blood. I am connected to my family here: by blood, by worry (c'mon, we're Jewish-can't escape that), by choice, by ritual. And as corny as this sounds, I am connected to the planet, to the inner workings of things I am only beginning to understand, but that feel real and true.
Whatever rituals we have: mourning rituals, celebration rituals, acknowledgment rituals, they serve a purpose. Perhaps you aren't planning to celebrate solstice by sitting in a circle with a group of women and invoking the goddesses to guide you through your life's lessons. Maybe you aren't even going to make a solstice cake. But you'll feel the shift if you look for it. Maybe you'll just stay outside and watch the sun set later on Tuesday than it's set all week. Or you can just google summer solstice rituals and find one that speaks to you (I recommend a cake).