By Elaine Voci, Certified Life-cycle Celebrant®
Romeo and Juliet. Beyonce and Jay-Z. Oprah and Stedman. Bonnie and Clyde. Some people are just born to be together. How they find each other and how it all works out…that’s what love stories are about and that’s what we all love about Valentine’s Day. It gives us a chance to celebrate love and tell each other love stories that fill our craving for tales of passion and love’s triumph over loneliness and despair
One of the joys of being a celebrant is to tell love stories in wedding ceremonies, in engagement parties, and in other settings where love features as an important element. For example, last year I performed a new house blessing that included blessing the union of the two home buyers and telling stories about each of the rooms in their former home and then sharing hopes and dreams for the rooms in their new home. Some stories were about seeing a child through an illness together; caring for an elderly parent whose last months were supported by hospice nursing care that came to their living room made into a bedroom, and the story of how they found their new home. Their love for one another was celebrated in two identical bracelets I presented to them that symbolized their compassion, affection and shared values as a couple. We celebrated their new home with pastries, sweet wine, hot tea while sitting by the fireplace surrounded by their pet family as rains washed the earth clean outside their windows.
A friend asked me recently about being a celebrant and how it was different than being a minister in conducting ceremonies of love, such as weddings or funerals. I explained that celebrants take the time to get to know their clients, their stories, their wishes and then incorporating them into a personalized service. Instead of a “cut and dry” affair with “traditional” phrases, a celebrant service is full of lyrical language, poetry, prose, common wisdom, humor, and aliveness; this makes each ceremony unique, memorable and unlike any other love story that has been told, yet also powered by universal truths that are part of the human story. When I quote Rumi to wedding attendees, in the presence of the couple standing in front of them, that “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they are in each other all along” heads nod, eyes glisten, and smiles appear on their faces. They recognize the universal truth in that observation.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, set aside some time to tell your love stories – whether it’s how you met your lover or your mate, or how you and your dying parent shared a special conversation before death came, or how your grandchild and you expressed love for one another while reading a book, snuggled on a sofa with a quilt over your legs, cuddling in the comfort of your family room. So many stories, so much love! Happy Valentine’s Day!