Second Rite of Passage: blessing the nest

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It was a full evening. A very full evening. (I was still feeling that coconut cream pie . . .)

We trickled into the room where the nest would be set. A special resting place for Ginny that night that would be the equivalent of a quilted “nest”. Patchworks and crazies draped over the couches down into a cozy spot on the carpet. Color and color and color and color. We would tuck her into it that night and say a blessing over her.

“Ginny, I want to read to you Marianne Williamson’s quote: ‘our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure . . .'”

“Ginny, I bless you with the gift of good sleep. Ma and Pa Ingalls talked about doing the ‘work that belonged to that day,’ and then resting. Good sleep is a blessing- the ability to sleep deeply and peacefully, and it’s something I pray for you, Ginny!”

“I give you the blessing of confidence and knowing who you are, gifts and foibles alike.”

We closed down the sun with best quilt of all: the quilt of a blessed sleep.

Good-night, Ginny. Until tomorrow . . . .

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Blessing for a rite of passage, or frankly, anyone

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the element of heartfire, artwork by Gina Mammano Vanderkam

John O’Donohue, author of Anam Cara and many other indelible books has been a source of inspiration for me over the years. HIs work is deeply insightful. I encourage you to take this blessing deeply into yourself and into your children’s lives as you remember that each day with it’s surprises, it’s difficulties, and it’s opportunity for personal transformation can be a rite of passage:

A BLESSING

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.

May the flame of anger free you from falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul. May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

~ John O’Donohue ~

First rite of passage: creating spaces

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paper and lace doily luminarias in “the room of celebration”

We were living in a beige neighborhood with stucco walls and neutral carpet (the accepted uniform for houses in the area). We weren’t raking in the bucks at our current jobs, so reserving an ultra rarified space with wooden floors and haloed light was not an option for this rite of passage. In fact, renting a space didn’t even rent any space in my mind at the time. As the granddaughter of Angelina Castellino Mammano, Sicilian immigrant and crafter of household wall art from broken bottles and dress-making scraps, I knew that making do was the right thing to do.

I had already formed a plan for theming each room for the event. I wanted a room of stories for sharing adolescent gems from the diaries of memory, a room of wisdom to gift Ginny with symbols of growth into womanhood, a room of blessing to pour words of hope and affirmation over my daughter’s body and soul, and a “room” of celebration to party till the twinkly lights shined no more!

Combining “making do” with these themed elements was my challenge. How could I make a room of stories a warm and safe place to mine the treasures of the historied heart? How would I make a room of wisdom that honors my daughter’s own sensibilities of beauty and taste? Could a room of blessing become a holy space without wooden floors, sacred echoes, and sanctified ceilings? What space could best hold a feast and a riotously celebratory dance party all at the same time?

Well, with a call out to a couple of women included in the special day for suggestions and ideas, as well as a gathering, yes, an actual gathering of materials in my living room of things I had on hand (quilts, fancy fabrics, folk art carvings, photographs, mis-matched tea cups!), I created simple, but beautiful spaces that held what I had hoped my home would house most on that important day: a homespun montage of warmth and meaning.

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My daughter relishes the “room of wisdom”

A welcome and a warm hello

a cup of tea in the room of stories

a cup of tea in the room of stories

My girl was turning 14. I looked up “rite of passage for women” online and got various stories of female circumcision and menstruation rites. With my nose crinkled, and the bottom falling out of my parental heart cavity, I knew I wanted something different than these options- something beautiful, something meaningful, something indelible. Shouldn’t every child have the chance to go through puberty with a bridge intact and shining adults holding hands on either side of it singing them into adulthood? Yes, my heart pumped, every child should.

Shining adults. I knew so many. My mom was one, kneeling at the side of my bed since childhood, ushering me into the world of spirit, praying in the darkness, while my eyes swirled in my head searching for connection to the otherworld. My good friend, Tricia was another. A pillar in my daughter’s life since birth. The one woman who took a stand to fight for dignity and freedom in my life when dignity and freedom were not a part of our family structure. My friend, Sharon would be another. Solid soul of commitment and questions. A beauty forging through the dusty paths of difficulty with at times, murky direction.  Nancy could be a third. Artist extraordinaire.  A sculptor from scraps. Her craft boasting both a method and a life lesson.

The list was filling out. But so many could have fit the bill: Karmyn, Maril, Valerie . . . . Each possible person could have filled it with a contribution, a purpose, a message, a gift they bring to this life. If it weren’t sculpting or praying or rescuing, it would be letter-writing or storytelling, or quilt-making. Each person has a part to play on the shining bridge . . .

which is why I’m choosing to write this blog.

I hope to::

  • explore the rich possibilities of rites of passage for girls
  • share life affirming examples from close at home and far way
  • provide a meeting place for ideas and encouragement in creating your own original celebrations

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I’m glad you’re here! I treasure every comment and look forward to responding to each one. See you on the shining bridge!