Posts Tagged ‘laughter’

What people like about Humanist weddings

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Taking a look at unsolicited feedback that we have received after conducting Humanist wedding ceremonies, here is a list of some of the things people liked about them:

In no particular order, Humanist wedding ceremonies are…

  • personal
  • about the couple
  • inclusive
  • beautiful
  • intimate
  • special
  • moving and touching
  • enjoyable
  • non-religious
  • relaxed, easy going and full of happiness
  • balanced by laughter and solemnity
  • designed by the couple and celebrant

Humanist ceremonies:

  • involve family and friends
  • often include simple participation by the couple’s parents
  • often include any children of the couple
  • meet and often exceed a couple’s expectations, hopes and dreams
  • include the couple’s choice of rituals, like candles, sand, handfasting, and rose ceremonies


I feel like the luckiest man alive

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

When I was in my teens and an ardent believer and I wanted to be a priest, one of my good reasons for wanting to be a priest was to be with people at key moments in their lives – like birth, weddings and bereavement. I wanted to engage with the real needs of people.
After my nine years in religious life, when I walked away from not only my priestly path but, in time, from all religious beliefs, I assumed that gone was my dream of being with people at core turning points in their lives.
I spent five years as a teacher. And I was privileged to work at St Bonaventure’s comprehensive boys’ school at the heart of the East End of London, under the leadership of the now knighted Sir Michael Wilshaw, who was subsequently made head of the English schools’ inspectorate, OFSTED.
But I knew that remaining a teacher for the rest of my life wasn’t what I wanted to do, and so I left teaching after five years.
For the guts of the next 20 years I worked as a journalist, columnist and author, in a self-employed capacity, enjoying being my own boss and working from home. I spent the guts of three years during that time as a publisher too. And then I took time out to delve into my own story, how I shifted from belief to unbelief and I celebrated that story, or part of it, in my RTE Radio 1 documentary, From Belief to Unbeleif, and in an as yet unpublished manuscript of a memoir.
And then, earlier this year, I thought about becoming a Humanist celebrant. And that is why I feel like the luckiest man on earth. If, as a teenager, I wanted to be with people at key turning points in their lives, helping them to express sorrow and joy, laughter and tears, I have discovered that I can do that as a Humanist celebrant. And I could do so without having to pretend I believed in religious fantasies that lost any claim on my allegiance, acceptance or intelligence.
As a humanist celebrant there is no nonsense about ‘ontological change’ happening at ordination. I’m a regular human being just like everyone else. And I don’t have to pretend to have the ear of a deity! Or to know his will! Or to interpret his ‘revealed word’ accurately. I’ve outgrown all that nonsense. All that superstition. I know that we have only one life and that it can be a wonderful life, and that the birth of each child warrants celebration. And that the marriage of two people is usually a happy time, and that it’s OK for people to be sad at weddings too. And I have been privileged to facilitate funerals – celebrations of a life ended, at which I have witnessed laughter and tears, joy and sadness, classical music and hard rock!
Now in my fifties, I realize that being a Humanist celebrant uses the skills and talents I’ve been lucky enough to have: my original desire to be with people at key moments of their lives; my writing skills in drafting ceremonies that are meaningful and personal for the people concerned; my teaching skills of speaking and engaging with a group of people; my empathy and compassion and listening skills; and my gratitude for being able to do this work which I love.

Laughter

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Laughter, they say, is good for the soul. They’re right! If I’m ever diagnosed with a serious illness, I’ll treat myself to, and with, comedy DVDs. It’s great to laugh. Laughter is from the gut. It gets us beyond logic, rationality, constraint, prudence. Even in the most boring of work tasks, we might look for opportunities for laughter. The funny side offers a different perspective. It can give us courage to take whatever step we might be being invited to take. Huh? Well, I did a firewalk once. I was scared and was unable to walk barefoot onto the burning embers. (By the way, I very much do not recommend you try this at home – people do get burned and burned badly doing firewalks!) My rational mind told me it was dumb, stupid, irresponsible, senseless, potentially painful, even debilitating. The guy organising the firewalk suggested that the next time I laughed, that then was the time to take my first step onto the burning embers. It’s the shift from head to gut, from logic to the funny side. And so, when next I laughed, I went for it. And I was glad I did. Facing one’s fear, but not acting on the basis of fear, is a good thing. Feeling the fear but doing it anyway, as Susan Jeffers so wisely put it in the title of her book. I guess the idea I’m looking at here is that laughter can help you to ‘do it anyway’. And it makes life so much more fun!