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Soulful Love
August 2001

by Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway

Every month, our Soulful Singles "Romance Reverend" shares her sage insights on relationships and getting ready for soulful love!  Send your questions to RomanceRev@SoulfulLiving.com.

Family Rituals Help Us Grow Into Loving Beings

I believe that if I had grown up with a more nurturing and spiritual family life that I would not have as many problems in my love life. As a single mom, I struggle constantly to impart soulful love to my kids. If I could create more of a spiritual environment in my home with my kids, I think we would all benefit from the "love fest" of good energy. I even believe that this would help me attract a more spiritual and kinder kind of man into my life, hence, theirs. Any ideas? --Bonnie, Austin, Texas

Dear Bonnie,

Our families are the source of who we are and who we become, and they certainly impact the way we seek out, experience and conduct ourselves in adult relationships. We donít need a double-bind study to prove that most of us will grow up and adapt and become that which is modeled to us in our early lives. Thus, negative relationship patterns take root early and one of the best ways to counteract bad relationship training and ensure a better chance for the next generation is to demonstrate a more spiritual, soulful model of love: Love of ourselves Ö and healthy love for partners and for our kids.

I agreeÖ a spiritual environment in your home will nurture your children, enhance your family life, and help create the context for your future relationships. And thereís a bonus to nurturing our children and imparting a soulful and loving lifestyle to them -- we grow as well. In fact, such a conscious effort at parenting helps us parent ourselves; bringing more spirituality and soulful love to our children also feeds the needy child within us that didnít get enough, way back when.

My good friend Barbara Biziou, who I call "The Queen of Rituals," is a national expert on every day rituals. She has a couple of fabulous books that focus on personal and family rituals and teach people how to evoke practical spirituality in their lives in ways that mesh well with their current lifestyle. The Joy of Ritual: Spiritual Recipes To Celebrate Milestones, Ease Transitions and Make Everyday Scared (Golden Books, 1999) has been enjoyed by people from diverse cultures around the world and The Joy of Family Rituals: Recipes for Everyday Living (St. Martinís Press, April 2000), offers wonderfully creative solutions to the challenges faced by modern families. It can help even the most loving family share more meaningful moments together -- even in the face of mundane family activities like meal time and bed time -- as well as help bring healing and wholeness to families in distress. She says the recipe for a successful, loving family life is merging the sacred with the every day.

Barbaraís work fits right in with this issue on personal rituals and I would like to share an interview I did with her when The Joy of Family Rituals was published.

LSB: Do we need ritual in our lives and what do we have to gain from it?

BB: Ritual, for me, is a way of bringing the sacred into your life; a well-thought out, structured situation in which to open to "spirit" that moves you from one state of consciousness to another. As a result, you often find your life changing and evolving in very positive ways. They reinforce our own desires and strengthen our ability to achieve them. They open up resources we werenít aware we had and help us slow down from the hectic pace of life.

How exactly does it work?

A ritual can take five minutes or five hours. It can take five days. A ritual is a consciously designed set of behaviors designed to evoke certain feelings and experiences that are needed to effect change in oneís life. It works on many levels. It influences the subconscious mind. Part of the psyche doesnít know the difference between performing a ritual and actually experiencing an event. When you complete a ritual, you are telling yourself you have completed whatever you have symbolically enacted. For example, if you take a ritual bath for purification, part of you literally believes you have released the past. And so it becomes true in your life

Why are family rituals so important?

To me family ritual is the anchor that really holds the family together, the glue. One of my inspirations for writing The Joy of Family Ritual is what I have sadly noticed in families who do not share special rituals: they often lack a deep connection, donít have a rewarding family support system and the children are feeling very alienated. Modern life is moving too fast for people. Everyone has such a tight schedule that unless you make room for structured family rituals you can easily go for weeks, or even months, without truly connecting to one another. Kids in these culture suffer greatly when they are not feeling connected to a family unit or a healthy community. They become disconnected, stressed and in some case depressed. On The very deep end of it you see drug use and kids acting out violently, against others and themselves.

Are rituals created for families different than those for adults?

The same format is true--having a beginning, an ending, a clear intention -- the difference would be that when you are doing rituals with children that you structure them to the age appropriate level. For little kids, youíd make it a shorter ritual and youíd pay more attention to making it appropriate to who is involved. There are different ways to include children and make them feel they are participating. Itís also taking existing rituals -- mealtime, bath time and bedtime -- and putting them in a more sacred container. Youíd be amazed at how sharing a simple blessing at mealtime can enhance peopleís lives!

Sounds like ritual takes the ho-hum out of family.

Right. And it doesnít have to be more work. Thatís important for people to know... because people who are so stressed out anyway will feel overwhelmed, as if ritual is yet another thing they must fit into the day. I believe ritual actually gives you more free time because many of the recipes in The Joy of Family Ritual allow the children to take responsibility for part of it.

As the American family continues to change, how can ritual help the transformational process with stepfamilies and alternative families?

With so many extended families and alternative families--single parents, re-marriages and stepparents, adoption and same sex parents-- families are changing today. Sometimes there are four sets of parents per child! Ritual can help them adjust and change with the times and include everyone. We are constantly shifting individually and collectively as a family and it is important to mark transitions with rituals... for becoming a parent, blessing a new baby, becoming a sibling, puberty and adoption, birthday and a parents day that include step parents and god mothers. Itís a celebration for kids to have in stead of traditional mother or fathers day with their step or god parents; so they donít have to feel split on the actual holiday, a new date and ritual can be created.

How would you address preparing to become an adoptive parent?

Nine months of pregnancy does not guarantee an easy transition from non-parent to parent, but at least youíve had some time to prepare. Adoptive parents to prepare for parenthood so that it is not the shock of: one minute single and the next a mother or father. I recommend, first, a ritual on becoming a parent. Then, an adoption ritual. Every year, you can do a ritual called "Gothcha Day" celebrating the day the child was adopted. Itís a way of being very honest about the fact that the child is adopted and letting them know that itís a special day.

How important are seasonal rituals for kids, such as full moon and spring equinox? Seasonal rituals are important because we are too out of touch with nature; our children, especially our city kids, need to be more in tune with the cycles of life. It gives them a better understanding of how life works. Without a proper understanding of natural cycles of life it is difficult to unhook ourselves from our societyís orientated toward instant gratification.

Do kids like rituals?

Kids feel safe with rituals. Itís the same thing as wanting to constantly eat the same kind of food, go to the same restaurant, or wear the same favorite T-shirt. Familiarity and repetition -- hence, family ritual -- makes them feel safe and secure. Just as adults have their lucky job interview outfit or a special object they carry for good luck, the power of ritual comes from the symbolism of the object or act. Symbols connect us to our inner power, remind us who we are. For those who are spiritually minded, you might say it connects them to a higher power. To this day, taking my son Jordan out for pizza remains a family tradition that has made him feel deeply connected to me since childhood. Heís 27! But pizza with mom still makes us feel bonded and connected and joyous! That is truly the joy of family ritual.

On a deeper level, what does family ritual offer?

If there really is to be such a change in this new millennium, itís like the song... "Let there be peace on earth ...and let it begin with me." Let it begin with the family unit. We should start as young as possible and build strong family units that will be inclusive of the new families. As family dynamics change with time and the tides of the culture, we can continue to create new rituals that are meaningful for all family members.

For More Information:
The Joy of Everyday Rituals
(due in October 2001, St. Martinís Press)

What Ritual from Childhood Made You Feel Most Loved?

© Copyright 2001 Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway  All Rights Reserved. 


Read Reverend Laurie Sue's Current Column

Read Reverend Laurie Sue's Past Columns:

July 2001 - "Dreams Warn Itís Time To Own Your Power"

June 2001 - "A Fun Visual of Your Favorite Romance"

May 2001 - "Someday Your Mystical Soul Mate Will Come"

April 2001 - "Enjoy the Merriment and Fun of An Ancient Love Holiday"

March 2001 - "Nourish Yourself On a Date for One"

February 2001 - "Get Ready for Soulful Love"


Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway is an author, teacher and contemporary clergy person who specializes in matters of the heart and soul. As an ordained interfaith minister and non-denominational wedding officiant, it is her honor to regularly marry couples in love. Prior to becoming a minister she enjoyed a successful and colorful 20 years in media as a widely published journalist, editor and author of eight books on relationships and romanceóas well as being a noted spokesperson on those topics. She was editor-in-chief of two national magazines and several regional publications, and her articles have been published around the world and in many newspapers and national magazines, such as the NY Daily News, The Washington Post, Womenís News, New Woman, Ladiesí Home Journal and Child. She evolved years of specialized reporting in the field of male-female relationship dynamics into a more spiritual pursuit that led her to train to be an interfaith minister, and then establish her wedding ministry along with her popular relationship enhancement programs.

She continues to write on weddings, soul mates and enhancing relationships, as well as teach on those topics. She's on the faculty of The Seminar Center and MyPotential.com. and trains other ministers through World Light Fellowship. She is a graduate of the New Seminary and a member of The Association of Interfaith Ministers. Her wedding ministry is based in New York.


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