The Need for Formal "Moments"

I had an amazing experience yesterday. I was invited by some friends to lead a Vow Renewal ceremony in honour of their 20th wedding anniversary. It was a great honour to be asked, but their request came with some perks. They wanted to have the ceremony at the top of Mount Hope, a peak that rises 6,050 feet above the town where I live. How could I say no? So we headed out to Valley Helicopters and were shuttled up to the top of the mountain. The view was stunning (despite the smoke from distant forest fires), as you can see from the pictures below.

As we reflected formally in the presence of their friends and family on their marriage commitment 20 years ago, I was reminded of something very important. These moments, events where we commemorate something that we hold to be of value, are vital to our humanity. Our culture has lost the need for these "rites of passage" and we far too often move through life without taking the time to mark these events in a way that formally acknowledges their value. For the most part we don't help children make a formalized step into adulthood. A large part of our culture has lost the marriage ceremony as a way to declare the seriousness of the relational commitment that we make to our spouse. Within Christianity we have events such as baptism and communion to mark events that have eternal significance, but even in church these often become mere habits and rituals disconnected from deep meaning. As my friends re-assented to their traditional wedding vows and then shared their own vows that they had written to renew their commitment to one another, it was a profoundly moving moment. On that mountain the 10 of us were linked by something powerful and transcendent. A formal event to reflect and acknowledge that this commitment was real and deep and a part of who they were. There was a thankfulness for what had gone before, and an excitement about the years to come.   

In many ways our lives go way too fast. But yesterday I received the gift of slowing down long enough to mark a moment that was important. It reminded me of something profoundly human, our need to be connected to one another, and to formally acknowledge that. Thank you Cam and Christine, for letting me be a part of your moment. It was a huge gift, and one that I hope to continue living in light of each and every day.