Facilitating Sacred Events Through Kindred Spirit (Celebrant) Ceremony

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Shortly after our marriage ten years ago, my husband, affectionately called Trey (George III) by me, and I found a mailbox nestled alone amongst the sand dunes of Bird Island on Sunset Beach, North Carolina.  Marked on the side were the words, “Kindred Spirit.” Located a remote two miles away from the pier and at least one mile away from any home, we surmised that no mail carrier made a daily trek to deliver or to pick up mail there.  Upon opening the box, we found five colorful composition books, a multitude of ink pens, a few shells, ribbons and some smiley face stickers.

Curious about our new mystery, we opened the books and read pages of heartfelt letters, poems, messages and notes.  Included were compelling communications to loved ones who had passed away, tales of romance and heartbreak, welcomes to newborns, stories of betrayal and forgiveness, anticipation of new adventures to come and remembrances of good times past.  Penned with honest words in the private space that Kindred Spirit created, writers shared their thoughts on hopes, dreams, love, loss, illness, marriage, divorce, commitment, the Divine they experienced and knew or not, and numerous passages encountered on their personal journeys.  We quickly embraced Kindred Spirit as our own sacred space.

Last year, Trey decided to expand his personal spiritual journey by becoming a Life-Cycle Celebrant.  His intention is to help others celebrate life passages through carefully personalized ceremonies.  In tribute to this place of personal spiritual reflection and in honor of the deep and abiding connection shared by all beings and living things on our beautiful earth, the new venture is called Kindred Spirit Ceremony.

Trey will graduate in late April from an amazing program at The Celebrant Foundation & Institute, an organization dedicated to the education of the highest quality Life-Cycle Celebrants.  In this tradition, a celebrant is a new kind of officiant who provides personalized ceremonies to individuals, couples (of any sort), families and communities – no matter their diversity.

His vision is to guide, support and reassure clients, respectful of the diversity of all humanity, during defining periods in their life journeys through ceremonies and rituals that commemorate, acknowledge and provide witness to their sacred and significant life events.

So…if you are planning a commitment ceremony, wedding, celebration of a birth or any significant life passage, I hope you will think of Trey.   His own significant spiritual journey throughout the years and his dedication to the study of traditions of all kinds is fascinating.  If you just want to sit and talk awhile about what all this means, just reply to this blog and we’ll set something up.


On Not Knowing Enough To Be Pessimistic

“If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.”  Hazel Henderson

Standing beside a dark swamp as the sun was descending, the air was cool, and in the distance, I saw a small, one story, ranch house on the other side. Its outline was barely visible, but its indoor lights gazed back at me and I yearned for the safety I felt I might find inside its warm, yet unknown, interior.

Feeling alone, frightened and frankly, scared to pieces, with no place to spend the long night ahead, I watched the darkness descend and stared at the grey trees growing out of the swamp.  Each was missing its leafy top and all were standing like oversized toothpicks mired in the murky waters. Amidst the unnerving quietness, I heard a loud ripple and realized a creature was swimming rapidly across the waters straight towards me.

I was terrified as I watched the alligator barreling at me. Even as I tried to run, I found that my feet had become like heavy stone statues, immobile at the water’s side. No sound emerged as I tried desperately to scream.

Then it was at my feet.

I tried to make sense of it as I stared. Relief washing over me, I realized it was not an alligator. It was a manatee! In my dream, as he watched me, he jumped from the water and rolled and played and sent love across the space between us.  My horrible fear had emerged into one of nature’s most lovable creatures!

When I had this dream twelve years ago, I was in the midst of thirty months of the most trying and stressful time of my life – divorce, illness, job woes and a very threatened financial situation, all at once.  Finally understanding finally that security and safety were illusions that I had created in my own mind, I learned I would have to find a way to survive.

To do that, I had to embrace, as the Sufis coined, my Divine Inheritance – the gift (in my case) of unwelcomed pain that helped me to become stronger, more compassionate, more accepting, more loving and even a tiny bit more enlightened about life.

I was forced to step up to the plate like the Cowardly Lion who became courageous when Dorothy’s life hung in the balance.

All these years later, I am grateful for that experience. Even when I felt I would never find joy and happiness again, I was swiftly moving toward some of the best years of my life.

Change is always happening because that is what life is. These days I celebrate the good times with more gusto and I try harder to squash fear during the tough times.  As  Ms. Henderson said, we simply do not know enough about our future to be pessimistic.

The Divine Within

“When you comin’ home, dad? I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, son, you know we’ll have a good time then.” From our gone too soon, Harry Chapin, The Cat’s in the Cradle

Some years ago, I dreamt I was on a long, leisurely walk in a lovely park filled with beautiful trees and flowers, long, walking trails and picnic tables atop concrete slabs shielded from the elements by makeshift roofs.

A mother and her daughter, about nine years old, were out strolling, too.  Upon seeing me, the daughter left her mother and ran to me. I smiled politely, shook my head to discourage her, and continued my walk as she scurried back to her mother who appeared completely uninterested.  After a few moments, the daughter’s footsteps raced rapidly up behind me again and she invited me to play. I said no, and when she persisted, I said, no, more firmly and wondered why the mother would not call the daughter away from me.  Finally, the daughter pleaded with me tearfully. “Please,” she cajoled me, “Please play with me.”  In my dream, I looked down at her and said, “I will not let you dominate my life anymore,” whereupon she returned sadly to her mother’s side.

I have often thought about that dream.  It has spoken to me about the inner craving we have to be nurtured ourselves. Many times, we  overlook the worthy child who resides inside us today. That child, I believe, has much to teach us – to help us remember who we really are – who we were before the world came in and told us who we are.  And we need to explore those gifts that we have yet to discover about ourselves that are of great value and needed in the world today.  We can only revere that child when we take the time to love, nurture and listen to its  insistent and wise voice.

Some people say the people in our dreams are each a representation of some part of the dreamer.  If so, in the dream, I was the distant mother who would not play with the child (representing a part of me that distracted by other things).  I was the child herself (representing my little girl inside who just wanted to play and be loved) and I was the woman whose walk was being disturbed and interrupted by a precocious child who simply wished to revel and enjoy the beautiful world we all share.  As that adult, I was being offered a special and significant opportunity, which I was staunchly rejecting, to nurture and spend time with the extraordinary child that resides inside all of us.

In our very adult worlds with so many demanding responsibilities, staunch (and often, self-imposed) deadlines, disturbing misunderstandings that cause great damage to both parties and serious over-commitments, we often choose to ignore that inner voice which implores us to slow down.

But sometimes the child has the courage to be persistent even while being rejected.  To urge us to love ourselves enough to indulge ourselves sometimes.    Take me to the zoo, she begs.  You know how I love to look at the orangutans, especially how the mommy plays peek-a-boo under a blanket with her baby.  “Are you kidding?” I  respond.  “I have important work to do for my clients, a household to run, places to go, people to see, things to do.”

Well, then, what about just a quick trip downtown for a chocolate nut sundae? she inquires hopefully. That will not take too long.   “A chocolate nut sundae!” I scream aghast at such a thought.  “ Do you know how many calories would be in that?”

Okay, but maybe we could just play in your makeup a little bit? Maybe try on some different shades of lipstick. Please, she begs and again I turn her down for the quite obviously more urgent, if not truly meaningful, things I must accomplish that day.

And the strange yet, always predictable, thing is, at the end of the day, I can barely remember why it was that I did not have time to try on a different lipstick.  And by the end of the week, I am completely exhausted as I  realize (that yet again) I have not nurtured my inner self and she is beginning to die for lack of attention.

On this cold evening in February – my little girl craves a warm fireplace, needs to drink some hot, Chai tea and be still.  She has been busy too long, has worried too much, has felt the need to accomplish (what?), has suffered the pain of the times too acutely, has barely dealt with the brunt of words that have stung sharply without responding these past few days.  So it is time to indulge her, love her, adore her and honor her.  She has the power to make me feel well and stable – if only I will allow her.  She has the insight to open doors to new ways of living life zestfully, restfully, lovingly and kindly.  

I promise her also that next weekend, after yoga, breathing, meditation and a long walk, I will sit down with the love of my life and indulge her secret desire to watch the 13 episodes of the next season of Netflick’s House of Cards straight through. Along with a little chocolate and a glass of red wine, my little, big girl is going to be totally spoiled for a while.  As well she should be. 

May the Divine bless my little girl and yours, too, on this day and always.  And by the way, in case you are not getting the message clearly, the men (and their boys) in the world need this, too.


Once I read that if we were born just one hour earlier or later, our whole lives would be different than they are today. Hmmm….maybe that one hour would have made a difference.  However, I do believe, many everyday choices have ramifications that alter our lives forever.

At the crossroads, we look one way and then the other, shift from foot to foot, ruminate about which way to go – marriage, committing to a life partner, divorce, which college to attend or whether to go at all,  jobs, big moves, whether to have children.  We debate, ask advise, lose sleep, make lists of pros and cons, fretfully strain to to see as far down the dark road as we can in order to make the best decisions. And occasionally, we even energetically and enthusiastically embrace a decision feeling certain that our choice will transform and shape our lives for the better.

Then there are those times that we are thrust unwittingly and unnervingly where we do not want to be.  At a routine physical checkup, the physician frowns and orders some extra tests.  A boss informs us the company is downsizing and our position, regrettably, will be one of the first to go.  A spouse or partner announces he has found a new love.

But in the end, all that happens is simply part of the the great mystery.  We cannot  know how choices we make and things that are thrust upon us will manifest in the story of our lives.

What happens involves decades of past events, people who have come before us,  where we were born, what we were taught as children, what we learned as we grew older and begin to form beliefs of our own.  We are woven together in surprising ways that intersect the most unlikely of us and produce the most unimagined events.  If we trace back to crossroads (wanted and unwanted), friends we have, choices we have made, we can get the only the slightest idea of how we managed to find ourselves where we are today. (Just as an aside – at your next dinner party, think for a moment how all those people ended up your table and where they grew up and where they came from and how you all managed to be sharing a meal together.)

Sometimes we fantasize about what if…I had gone to a different college…took that other job…studied harder…not met that man…not had that car accident…Things would be different.  Yes, different, but probably not in the way we might think or hope.

The Bhagavad Gita, that ancient Hindu text, reminds us to act well without attachment to the fruit of our actions.  To make the best decisions we can at the time and then let go.  What will be will be.

Helen Keller talked about this, too.  “Security is mostly a superstition,” she stated flatly.  “It does not exist in nature nor do children as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

In the end, I believe we have to embrace an unconditional “yes” to life.  One of the first purchases my husband and I made together is a wrought iron piece of art that says simply, “Yes.”  It reminds us that yes really is our only choice.  It calls us to embrace life on life’s terms.  To make the best decisions we can at the time we make them. To react the best way we know how.  But to know we do not control the consequences of our decisions or actions.