Linda: When we think of rituals, we often think of those offered by religious traditions, designed by others whose frame of reference may not be exactly in keeping with our own. These traditional rituals may be beautiful and soul nourishing, but not suited to our unique needs. We can continue practicing them if they give meaning to our lives, while we can create living rituals that are an expression of our current concerns. Rather than relying upon those of others, we devise behaviors that relate to our immediate reality.
Affirmations of Our Love: There are rituals such as a warm greeting upon awakening, a good night kiss, a hug when returning from the workday, holding hands watching a film, words of affirmation, snuggling in bed on a weekend morning, giving thanks for having our beloved partner in our life, or offering a blessing for their well-being, just to name a few. All of these activities are affirmations of our love and go a long way in strengthening the bond of our partnership. And they allow for a sweetness to permeate our relationship that helps offset the inevitable arguments that can occur when differences have to be addressed.
Healing Rituals: Painful, frightening differences can erupt in arguments that require healing. We can learn how to set the conditions that will minimize disruption to the partnership by devising rituals that allow for the differences to peacefully co-exit. The first step in this form of ritual work is to co-create a set of agreements that will assist us to have productive communications. We agree to name the problem and express how the challenge makes us feel. Responsibly expressing the feelings that we have relating to our concerns is part of the ritual.
The agreement makes room for the thoughts and feelings to be heard with respect. Then the words and feelings that represent the truth of our inner experience are both clearly articulated and received. Being heard with respect brings about some relief from the suffering that is inherent in holding it inside. Once the situation is acknowledged and each person has spoken their truth and listened to the other, the challenge, whatever it is, becomes more workable.
What is ultimately most important in the practice of any healing ritual that we are clear about our deeper intention to grow in understanding. What is necessary in order to engage our partner’s assistance is to solicit their help with a pure and sincere heart. When we feel and express our true need for help and make it known clearly, they are more likely to respond in cooperative, supportive ways.
Vows: Vows are not simply made once but need to be continually renewed on a frequent and on-going basis. When we focus on something larger than our own personal fulfillment, we have a larger concern for greater involvement with our community. These vows help to remind us that we don’t partner simply to one person but to all of their relations as well. We marry their family, system of beliefs, and rituals. They do the same.
Sacred Questions: Why do we make the decision to marry and to formalize this commitment when we can keep things simple, less demanding, and less complicated simply by having a relationship that does not include a formal commitment? What is it really that we desire in taking on this commitment? What is it that is driving us? Continually remaking our vows puts us in direct contact with these questions and forces us to recognize in each moment what is there for us and to acknowledge and honor that in whatever way is appropriate. In doing so we also invite the larger community in to bear witness to our discovery and promise.
Marriage vows are not made simply with regard to one person. They are made with our ancestors, our community, as well as the entire natural universe. Such dedication requires a container that is greater than anything that our ego can adequately manage or hold. Therefore there is a need to hold our vows in a larger context. We are taking vows just for our own pleasure, but for the greater good of others as well.
In taking on the commitment to design our own living rituals, others are served by virtue of the environment that our love and devotion create. We bring into the world, a living sanctuary that serves the well-being of others and promotes the establishment of conditions that bring forth greater wholeness, peace, and love amongst everyone who is touched by that which we create together.