Covenanting Community Highlight: Commitment Ceremony
Sacred Path is a UU religious community in Indianapolis, Indiana that was welcomed into relationship with the Unitarian Universalist Association as a Covenanting Community.
“Love, above all things, is a commitment to your choice.” ―Rob Liano
As we enter our fourth year together, Sacred Path held a ritual of commitment over Labor Day weekend. Sitting in a circle, we began by naming and honoring our ancestors: those who helped bring us to this place and time.
Our prayers were silent, spoken, and sung.
We lit candles and honored the ministers who have served faith communities we have been a part of in the past.
We lit candles for each of the Unitarian Universalist congregations in the central Indiana area.
We lit candles for our individual spiritual guides and teachers, sometimes speaking their names into the space, sometimes silently honoring their influence in our lives.
We named parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles. We named ministers, nuns, teachers, and entire congregations. Some of us named authors, philosophers, and theologians as well as familiar intimates. We named those who lovingly guided us as well as those whose lessons came through difficulty and hardship, all of whom helped us to grow.
Before the ritual, each adult, young adult, and youth was invited to bring with them a small token symbolizing their commitment to the community to be left on the altar. People brought stuffed animals, books, cds of music they had recorded, stones, geodes, beads, feathers, pinecones, shiny boxes, poems they had written, and even glitter glue!
When the time came, one-by-one we approached the altar in the center of the room and shared our commitments with the community. Sometimes our commitments were named confidently others more softly. Sometimes they were silently placed on the altar along with the tokens.
In the next round, we honored our commitment to self for the next year. One-by-one we approached the altar again, sharing our commitments to self-care and growth. Each person received an item from the altar that spoke to them in a special way, while the community bore witness to these commitments and agreed to gently hold one another accountable to them.
Finally we honored the joys and sorrows the community had shared over the past year, embodied in the strings of many colors wrapped around a prayer stick made of rosewood that a member had offered for this purpose shortly after last year’s ingathering. We sang in gratitude then processed outside to burn the stick in a sacred fire, sending its prayers skyward. We concluded by singing, “Spirit of Life.”
Afterward, we held a feast outdoors under the stars and the canopy of trees that rises over the land we hold sacred in this time, knowing it is made so by the many who have walked and worshipped here in past generations.
We invite everyone in the larger Unitarian Universalist community to keep Sacred Path in your thoughts and prayers this next year. We know all too well the inherent risk in starting something new. It would mean so much to us to feel the supportive energy of others enveloping this emerging ministry!
Lori Stone Sirtosky has served as a lay leader with Sacred Path since its inception in 2012. For her day job, she wrangles the technology needs of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalism’s congregation without walls. The biggest lesson she has learned in working with innovative and emerging ministries is to breathe. Whatever you are dealing with today, rest assured, another seemingly big scary thing is coming down the pike, and you will survive it, too.