June 16, 2020
Some times I make mistakes. I believe making mistakes is human, and at some point, everyone makes mistakes. That seems to be part of life. The important part seems to be learning from those mistakes.
One of my examples (and trust me; there are many to choose from), was at a wedding I officiated. Couples spend lots of time identifying and lifting up the circle of those they wish to have participate in the ceremony. Generally that means those people have accompanied one or both of the couple for a significant part of their lives.
So when it came time to invite the bride’s Goddaughter up to share a reading, I mispronounced her name. I knew it as soon as I said it. Her name was not a familiar name to me. I admit; I had repeated her name over and over and over in preparation for the ceremony; working on the pronunciation so I could get it right. And as soon as I said it during the ceremony; I knew I mispronounced one of the vowel sounds.
Names are important. Once I realized my mistake, I immediate apologized and said, let me get this right. I reintroduced her and said her name. Grace is a healing gift. And I believe the time spent building the relationship with the couple; and meeting their loved before the ceremony, helped build trust, so they knew my intentions and my heart. And they were okay with me being human. And more okay that I admitted it and corrected my mistake.
As a Celebrant, I spend a lot of time weaving words to fit a celebration or occasion. It is important to pay attention and listen as I meet with those I will help celebrate their occasion. I need to learn of their culture and their beliefs and their traditions and their circle; so I may honor them and the occasion with the upmost respect. And also do no harm; which includes saying something that offends or hurts. This involves taking time to learn about the people, places, relationships, history, and dynamics.
I ask lots of questions and gather lots of information when working with people. I am not perfect. I hope by continually learning from the people I work with, we build a relationship and I understand their essence. From there, I let the spirit guide me. Most of the time it works well… not because of me.. but because of the opportunity to engage and learn and be human. After all, we are lifting up the human experience and human celebration when we gather those we love.
With all this in mind, I am thinking of the current condition in our country where more and more people are acknowledging what black and brown people have understood their whole lives; and understood through their ancestors before them. It makes me think a lot about mistakes I’ve made and society has made. And it makes me think about words. I have made mistakes in society using wrong words or words that I did not truly understand the origins. In this climate I am reflecting more and more about words and names and getting it right.
I recently wrote about the colloquiums I grew up with. That leads me to phrases that have been passed on that come from deep wounding. I attach the following article with shares 10 phrases people often use; and the deeper meaning of those phrases… and how they hurt.
Just as I owe it to those I work with to Celebrate events; to honor them and the occasion with the upmost respect; and do no harm. I also owe it to society… to keep listening and learning and being attune with various culture, beliefs, traditions, relationships and words.
I pray to continue to listen so I may honor and do no harm to those throughout society. I pray for grace, as I know I will continue to make mistakes. I pray with each added year of my age and learning; my mistakes lessen.
This night I offer this quote:
Now, I have no choice but to see with your eyes,
So I am not alone,
so you are not alone.”
— Yannis Ritsos
May it be so…