Why Memorial Rituals?
As I cruised the web doing some research today, I came across the prose included below and must share with you. It is written by Cinder Hypkie and is excerpted from this compelling article. I’m continually exploring the healing nature of rituals for the dying and after death. I treasure this kind of a find! Her poem speaks volumes to what I bear witness to, within only a few tenderly conveyed lines. I agree with her observations.
Yes, we do enter ritual “to respond to the call of the soul” and our fearless response to the call “places us in a realm of experience that we could not enter alone.”
We enter ritual to respond to the call of the soul1:
To heal ourselves,
To pay our tribute
To honor our ancestors,
our fallen warriors,
our soft spoken heroes,
To encircle our children with love and hope for a future,
To stitch our neighborhoods together one honest connection at a time.
As artists and teachers and activists,
As would-be and sometimes wounded healers:
When summoned, we walk alongside, in humility,
Open ourselves to hear deeply,
Enter in to core matters of the heart.2
We tip the soul’s basket onto the table,
Offer possibilities for mutual healing,
bring into being acts of resilience and resistance.
So we build our ofrendas3 of rose petal and rosemary,
Mexican marigold and store-bought mums.
We pour our libations on the earth or the pavement –
From the waters of West Africa to the streets of Baltimore.
We paddle out into an ocean of grief,
Place a sea of flowers at the gate,
We spray the bike white,
Wrap a teddy bear tight around a pole.
Write a name in the sand, or R.I.P. Brotherman
On the wall of the rowhouse next door.
We sing a song they loved, draw a dove on their photo,
We sing and dance and eat and carry on,
Long, long after they are gone.
Art for remembering in a time of forgetting,
Art for asking: What is needed here?
Art for mending a broken heart
Finding our voice, our resolve, a new start.
Hush now, listen, and call their name.
Widen the circle; welcome them in.
Composed from research and interviews with community artists and activists by Cinder Hypki, 2011.
1 Quote by Malidoma Patrice Somé in Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community 1993.
2 Quote by Andrew Boyd, personal communication 2011.
3 Spanish: “altar,” “offering”