Resources

I have a large collection of quotations, poetry and scripts for ceremonies and rituals. I also enjoy writing and am including some of my work to give you a flavor of what we can create together.

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Transition

The transition moment is in the gap
Between the known and the unknown
Quivering in uncertainty, yet poised to fly.

Threads of the past, chosen for color and clarity
Weave in and out of the times yet to be.
Fashioning a whole cloth, not only to wrap us in comfort,
But to clothe us suitably for the work ahead.
We can never venture naked.
Nor do we want to be heavy-burdened.
Overcoats and galoshes are unnecessary.
Sturdy shoes and gossamer wings are mandatory.
Raiment that will transform us, guide us,
Present us as newly fashioned,
Yet true to our style.

–Marilyn Rampley

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What if? (A Life without Celebrants)

What if I change and no one notices?

Everything is different from inside my eyes.

But no one marks the occasion,
no one sees the transformation
or even cares.

How different it all could be
if someone would name the change.

They could call me the New You
and I’d know they noticed.

If they would light just one candle
or ring one chime
I’d know I count.

What if I change and no one notices?

Not even X marks the spot.

 

Excerpt from the Celebration of 86 Years and Still Counting for my mom, Wilma Horton McCulloch, at a family reunion, Estes Park YMCA camp, June 2009

Mom, we have a gift for you—a necklace. We’ve brought charms to add to this necklace and Janet, our artist, has promised to attach them. One-by-one we want to bring these to you, explain why we chose it, and put it in this blessing bowl. I’ll begin.


In addition to your story, we have your sayings. We thought it would be fun for those marvelous, courageous, brilliant people who have joined our family to pick out some favorites to share with us from booklets we’ve created for everyone. As self-described Word-Nerds, we proclaim that we will never be at a loss for just the right saying for every occasion!

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HOPE
REFLECTIONS ON THE 23RD PSALM

THE PSALMIST WROTE ABOUT SHEPHERDS
FOR ME, I KNOW NOTHING OF SHEEP,
BUT I DO KNOW THAT WHEN LIFE’S THE DARKEST,
A RAY OF HOPE COMES FROM WAY DOWN DEEP.

IT SEEMS TO COME UNBIDDEN
WHEN MY TEARS CAN COME NO MORE
THIS COMFORT THAT I FEEL INSIDE
FROM GOD, LOVE’S ETERNAL SOURCE.

WHEN I TAKE TIME TO LOOK ‘ROUND ME,
THE BLESSINGS THAT ARE MINE,
I GET A NEW PERSPECTIVE
THE LIGHT BEGINS TO SHINE.

THEY READ THIS PSALM AT FUNERALS
BUT IT’S ALSO ABOUT OUR LIFE
THE JOY THAT COMES UNBIDDEN,
THE JOY FOUND AMIDST THE STRIFE.

THE PSALMIST WROTE ABOUT SHEPHERDS
FOR ME, I KNOW NOTHING OF SHEEP,
BUT I DO KNOW THAT WHEN LIFE’S THE DARKEST,
A RAY OF HOPE COMES FROM WAY DOWN DEEP.

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Conversation on the Way to Preschool
Dedicated to Aidan, who’s lived 5 years, and Mom, who lived 86.

Amma, do you know that red cars are the fastest?
No.
Do you know why they make cars go fast?
Why?
So people don’t run out of time.
Oh.

Mom, you’re running out of time.
Yes.
I have so much I want to know.
Ask.

How did you know Dad was the right one?
What did you think the first time you saw me?
What was the hardest part of parenting?
Have I been a good daughter?

Daughter, I’m running out of time.
Yes.
Will it hurt? Will I see Dad again? Is it OK with you?
Yes. Maybe. No, but yes.

Tell the stories. Keep me alive. Guard your heart.
I will. I will. I will.

I want a red car.

 

Backpack Ritual
Shadow Rock Congregational Church, UCC
Summer 2010

Tomorrow and next week mark a big change in the lives of our children and youth. School starts! Nothing symbolizes the beginning of school like a backpack or book tote. Kids, come up front and bring your packs with you. If you forgot, come on anyway and pretend you’re carrying your backpack.

Adult asks when children and youth are up front: How many of you have been shopping for school supplies?…How many start school in the morning?…Next week?

Adult: We’re going to do a ritual that marks the passage of summertime into school time. You’ll help me. Put your backpacks, real or imaginary, in front of you on the floor.

Right now marks the stand-alone time between summer and school. You’ve had time this summer for dreaming and playing, right?

All: Right!

Adult: You’ve collected treasures, thought new ideas, slept in late, right?

All: Right!

Adult: Very soon that ends, right?

All: Right!

Adult: Going back to school means getting back on a schedule, right?

All: Right!

Adult: It also means seeing friends you’ve missed and meeting new friends, learning new information about the world, and stretching yourself as you try new activities, right?

All: Right!

Adult: To mark this change in time, pick up your backpack (real or imagined). This is summertime. Now put it on, and turn to face the congregation, and you are ready for schooltime.

For all of you in the congregation, you can remember what it was like to be on this cusp of time between summer and school. You remember the sadness at losing some freedom, but the excitement of a brand new start. I know that you support these kids as they march into the school year. Show your support by repeating after me,

We send you back to school with our love, support and care.

Adult: OK, kids, here’s a brand new Shadow Rock pencil you can take with you to symbolize all our good wishes. As you march back to your seats, we look forward to all you learn and share with us on your school journey. Bon voyage! 

Written by Marilyn Rampley, Life-Cycle Celebrations.

If you want more information about this progressive, open and affirming congregation, go to shadowrockucc.org.