My First Nations and Metis friends often tell me how bereft of ceremony white culture is. Having been honoured over the past decade to be a part of indigenous ceremonies to varying degrees, I would have to agree. We gloss over coming-of-ages, the starting of new homes, or the journeys we take in our pursuits of God.
However, even within Euro-Christian culture there are traditions and celebrations that connect us to the Holy and to one another. I see these more visible expressions in the liturgical church I’ve become a part in the last four years or so; less so in evangelical traditions (but they’re there).
Not being one for high degrees of visibility in ceremony or celebration, it’s a truth that has taken some getting used to for me. But the more I encounter these holy spaces — these stepping stones of our lives — the more I realize the inestimable importance of bearing witness to one another’s seasons in this world.
Today was one such day.
It was often impossible to know whether to laugh or to cry; and while good friends surrounded me, there was also present a sea of strangers; and the newness of the thing was both confounding and beautiful — a tall paradoxical order to ingest in one sitting. I wasn’t sure I always liked it, but I was beyond certain I was proud of my friend; I was humbled to be welcomed as a witness; and I was mystified at the all the holy pomp and circumstance. I would have regretted not going had I stayed behind to hide.
It was a good day.
It indeed was a day to be proud. It was a day to be grateful that we were created to be witnesses to the lives of others. It was a day that reminded me to deliberately choose to show up to these moments, and watch my friends cross those stepping stones that will change their lives so much.
Who knew so much depth could spill over amongst us over multigrain pancakes and syrup at Smitty’s?
Not I, surely. But then again, pancakes have always been somewhat of a surprise (especially if they are thin pancakes).
Once again, John O’Donohue says it so much better than I.
The Inner History of a Day – John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us
No one knew the name of this day,
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way
The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.
We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.
Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.
So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.