Creating Your Own Meaningful Rituals

Every week, at least one person says to me: “I’m not religious, but I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” So many of us have rejected institutional religion, but want to keep the rituals that help make meaning of life’s precious moments.

Ashley Spykerman is one of them. She’d left the Catholic Church that she’d grown up in, but when her youngest son was born during COVID, she wanted to find a way to mark his happy arrival that captured some of the spiritual magic of baptism – without the institutional baggage.  

Using inspiration and resources from her time in The Nearness, Ashley created her own beautiful and imaginative ritual to gather her community and celebrate her son. 

Below, Ashley shares tips and words of advice for anyone looking to create their own ritual. Plus, keep scrolling to read Ashley’s story!

I may be biased, but I LOVE THIS STORY! ​Look out for her brother’s amazing mechanic-themed words of love, especially :)

If Ashley's story strikes a chord with you, our next journey includes guidance for how to design your own ritual—signups open on March 20th!

Ashley’s top tips to craft your own blessing ritual

1. Your loved ones will support you

It is a little unusual to create a ritual gathering like this, but Ashley was really encouraged by the reaction from her family - even the religious ones.

“You’ll be surprised at how supportive everyone will be. The people that love you want to mark the important moments for you - big and small. And, even if it is a little strange, people are willing to try to do their best to be supportive!”

2. Use good structure and change the language

Ashley was familiar with the Catholic rite of Baptism, and so she used that as her guiding structure. “There are parts of the Catholic faith that I do miss, the rituals especially, so that was a great foundation,” she explained.

I’ll venture to add one tip to Ashley’s and mention: 

3. Say what is true

It might seem obvious or even trite to say the things that are true - but that clarity is exactly what these moments are for. This is the time to say something like, “I will love him. I will support him. I promise.” Simple words; profound impact.

Read Ashley’s story below and be inspired!

Ashley's Story

Last weekend we finally hosted the Baby Blessing and it was such a meaningful experience. I wanted to share our ceremony with you.  

We held our ceremony in our living room. Everyone sat in a circle around the perimeter and Anthony sat and played in the middle of the room. We began by having everyone introduce themselves and to explain their connection to us. Some of the connections seemed obvious but we had friends in attendance who didn't know our family so the introductions helped people connect faces and names. We then asked the Godparents to make commitments to Anthony. These were the questions we asked them:

Do you promise to:

  • Love, encourage and support Anthony?
  • Be a loving adult that Anthony can turn to?
  • Help guide Anthony in a life of honesty, empathy, and love?

The Godparents answered "we do" to each of these questions. After their commitments were made, we offered a blessing to the Godparents. Our blessing was:

"May your life be filled with joy, laughter and peace. May you live secure in the knowledge of how loved you are and how important you are to us."

We asked each person at the ceremony to read their blessing out loud to Anthony. I was absolutely floored by the outpouring of love for our little boy and the beautiful sentiments were so moving. My brother is an auto mechanic and has never been particularly expressive. His blessing was so lovely and creative. He wrote it completely in car metaphors. It was incredibly touching."May your tank always be full, your engine always warm, and your cab filled with the ones you love."

After the blessings were read, I thanked everyone for their beautiful words. I told them how important they are to our family and how much we appreciate their love and support. We then moved on to dinner.

Ashley and her family celebrating their son's 1st birthday

Our ceremony was simple, yet impactful. It was such a lovely reassurance from the people who love us and our children. It was truly a village moment where I felt so connected to each person there and so uplifted by their love. This was our first gathering since the pandemic and it hit us in all the right places. Almost everyone commented on how beautiful the ceremony was and what a meaningful idea it had been.

Thank you for The Nearness. It gave me the confidence to step outside of the tradition that was no longer working for our family and gave me the permission I needed to find a new way to celebrate and acknowledge our new little one. The community in The Nearness was so helpful in helping me figure out how to structure this ceremony and I am so grateful. Thank you for everything you do.  I hope you know the impact you are making.”

Isn’t this just marvelous? I hope you’ll join us in The Nearness, too!