When you entered the room where your computer is located, you likely passed through a doorway. Not a very impressive doorway perhaps, at least not so you’d have thought I’d call attention to it, but in fact, it’s very significant. The doorway expresses a liminality experience.
From the Latin word “limin”, meaning the centre of a doorway, liminality is the “moment of crossing over from one experience to another.” As Robert Fulghum in his book “From Beginning to End” put it, liminality describes the “transitional phase of personal change wherein one is neither in an old state of being nor a new, and not quite aware of the implications.”
That’s you, that’s me, each time we enter the door where our computer is located because we never know how we will be changed by an encounter on social media. And, that’s you, that’s me, on our birthday which is a “transitional phase of personal change … not quite aware of its implications.”
There are rites of passage / special rituals / ceremonies / liturgies in many cultures and religions where children are named, adolescents are welcomed into community as adults, relationships are blessed, the deceased are mourned. But, acknowledgment of the rite of passage of the five year or decade point in the elderhood years isn’t really acknowledged in such ways.
Elderhood can be a wonderful (wonder-filled!) time in our life – especially if we enter it with joy, abandon and open to possibilities that will delight and challenge us in ways that we can’t even begin to ask or imagine! Yes, there will be challenges, but there have been challenges at every time in our lives.
When I read the Simchat Hochmah (“Joy of Wisdom”) ceremony created by Savina Teubal, it sparked a thought within me: you know, one of those “Ohmygosh, is it really another decade – have another five years passed – where has the time gone?” thoughts. With the advent of social media, I realized that an elderhood cybercelebration could be manageable, innovative, do-able, creative, spiritually-nurturing and fun!
So, based on Simchat Hochmah, I invite you to consider a unique birthday gift to yourself on your next five-year/decade birthday as an elder: A Liminality Celebration of Elderhood. Here’s how I envision it working: a period of time (month/) week before your five-year/decade birthday, email family/friends (FB friends too <g>) and invite them to join you for a cyberbirthday “Liminality Celebration of Elderhood” on “the” day. Let them know that on your birthday (at a certain time if you want to be specific), you’ll be at your computer and would welcome them to join you at their computer (via Facebook or wherever/however you decide). And then, on that day, send them all an email – using your own words or something such as …
Dear family and friends,
Today I mark the half-decade mark (or … the transition from one decade to the next) and your cyberpresence with me on this day brings a special joy. Even if you can’t be with me in person, you are “with me” via social media. Thank you! Today I will be lighting candles, planting a tree (bush/flower) wearing something called a ‘kittel’, and offering a covenantal statement. Why these things? Read on.
The Wearing of the Kittel While I’m not Jewish (omit that if you are Jewish of course <g>), I like the Jewish tradition of the ‘kittel.’ As an elder/senior, I am in the last decades of my life. I see the ‘kittel’ (aka shawl), which is a burial garment, as a tangible way for me to acknowledge my mortality. And so I will wear a kittel (shawl) this day out of respect for the holiness and sanctity of life, hoping/praying that I will be granted healthy life for decades yet to come. I wear that shawl as a sign of the physical changes that come with age and out of respect for the ancient religion of Judaism that grounded generations of people before me. While the traditional colour of the kittel is white (and was worn by male clergy), this ritual is a ‘borrow’ from the Jewish culture – not a reproduction so I will wear a purple shawl. The colour of purple is a mysterious and holy colour, long associated with spirituality and combines/balances two colours: the vibrant energy of red and the calm grace of blue. It’s been said that wearing purple helps us to be more aware of our own spirituality and attune to our creative energy. I like that! Especially as part of an elderhood milestone ritual. Besides, I’ve always loved purple in all of its glorious shades. 🙂
Candles Candles can be a focus of special meaning at many times in our lives. They can create sacred space within ourselves, and help us connect to our deepest level. So today, I will light candles as a gentle reminder of the unconditional love of the Creator (God/Holy Other). Watching their flickering flames will gently move me to a place of inner quiet, reflection and peace.
Planting a Tree/Bush/Flower To mark this special time in my life, I will plant a tree/bush/flower/plant today. When I remember that liminality is the moment of ‘crossing over’, I think that planting can be a poignant reminder of my connection with earth – where life is quickened, and heaven – where life in its purest essence will become known. Planting encourages my belief that after death, there is life. I love life and am mindful that if I don’t do my part in conserving the environment, life as I now know it, will not be available for future generations. I will plant a tree/bush/flower today for those who come after me in the hopes that they will be blessed in its beauty, find comfort under its canopy (if a tree), and be reminded of the holy and sacred gift of all creation.
Covenantal statement Today, this liminal moment is sacred for me, for I acknowledge that life has been given me as gift. Because I understand ‘covenant’ as a bond between the participant, another person, and the Creator (me, you, God), I choose to be intentional about acknowledging this Gift of Life. So to you all, I covenant to myself, to my family/friends connected via cyberspace (gathered here in my home), to my ancestors, and to the Creator that I will seek to use my life and gifts in loving ways to the best of my ability remembering the words form the Book of Proverbs in Scripture (chapter 31, verse 25) … “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Similarly, I think it can be inclusive and read “He is clothed with strength and dignity; he can laugh at the days to come.”
I am grateful for each of you. Your cyberpresence on this special day in my life, sharing in this rite of passage, this “Liminality Celebration of Elderhood” has been a deep blessing! Thank you!
And then sign your name, click ‘send’ and enter into your “Liminality Celebration of Elderhood” with an abiding sense that you are not alone on your special day and an acknowledgement that you are celebrating you! Permission to use/share/publish this ritual is granted with accreditation and notation of the following links: www.soulistry.com www.soulistry.com/blog www.facebook.com/groups/soulistry as noted below.
© June Maffin, Soulistry