Yesterday, I conducted an enactment of a naming ceremony for the participants of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants National Conference in Adelaide.
Michael Elwood, one of the conference team, invited his daughter, Diana and her husband, Nathan and their beautiful daughter, Clara Rose, to join us for the enactment. Both Clara (5 months) and her older brother, Rupert (2) had been christened in a Lutheran Church and the family had never attended a naming ceremony before. I spoke with Diana over the phone and we discussed their experience of the christening of her two children and what was important for her from those ceremonies.
I explained what the request was from the organisers of the conference in terms of the enactment. I chose a simple ceremony that would be affirming of their love and commitment as parents to their children’s wellbeing and suggested Brene Brown’s Parenting Credo asking if they would enjoy reading this as part of the ceremony. I was delighted when Diana said she loved Brene’s work and resonated completely with the Credo.
After speaking with Diana I drafted a first outline and included an adapted version of the The Parenting Credo and some questions for them to answer. Had this been a real life booking I would have arranged a time to meet with both parents in person or via Zoom and asked those questions as part of our meeting.
As this ceremony was for a conference it was rather an unusual setting—celebrants were seated in conference style tables and there was not the intimacy of close family and friends standing near. However, there were plenty of beaming smiles from celebrants and baby, Clara, was wonderfully interactive with big smiles for everyone. She certainly didn’t have any concerns about being the centre of attention.
We had already written some ‘blessing cards’ for the family in the previous session. I had prepared a card with the Credo printed ready for Nathan and Diana to read; and requested they read through a few times to become familiar with the wording.
Nathan and Diana were invited to stand facing out to ‘family and friends’ and Michael, Diana’s dad and little Clara’s grandfather stood to their right side and I situated myself on the left. Rupert was at home being cared for by Nathan’s parents however had he been present, I would have recommended that there was another friend or family member, even a babysitter, who could care for the young Rupert if he wanted to go for a walk, or needed extra care, food etc. As part of the enactment, I suggested he was asleep at this time.
On behalf of Diana and Nathan I would like to welcome you and thank you for coming to this naming ceremony and celebration today. Today we welcome into their family and community of friends their beautiful daughter, Clara Rose. My name is Wendy Haynes, and I am a celebrant—it is a pleasure to be here with you.
We (Nathan, Diana and myself) would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of this land—the Kaurna people. We pay respect to the Elders both past and present and emerging who have cared for and will continue to care for Country and share culture that enriches life. It is a beautiful place that Diana and Nathan get to call home and they give thanks for the beauty and the many gifts that come from living here.
When Nathan and Diana became parents two years ago with their son, Rupert, it was for them, an experience unlike any other – meeting and getting to know this little person that had been with them for months, but who, in reality, was far greater than they could ever have dreamed of. Parenting Rupert has been, and continues to be the greatest honour, challenge and joy of their lives, as they watch him grow and learn about the world around him. Five months ago, the loving chaos expanded easily to include their beautiful daughter, Clara. Rupert is very loving toward Clara – it’s wonderful for Nathan and Diana to see their children’s relationship grow.
So how do they stay grounded in this beautifully chaotic and loving family life? They have come to know each other’s limits, and when they need to tap out. Diana and Nathan parent as a team, and have you, a village of family and other parents with young children around them who help them to reality check, and give a sympathetic ear when needed. The foundation for their parenting is clear—respect, love and kindness; and honouring each other’s parenting boundaries. They would like to give voice to an adapted parenting credo that resonates with them both. The original version was penned by the author, Brene Brown.
While Rupert is fast asleep for the ceremony both children will feel the ripples of this credo throughout his life.
Diana: Above all else Rupert and Clara, we want you to know that you are loved, and loveable. As you grow you will learn this through our words and our actions – the lessons in love are in how we treat you and how we treat each other. You are worthy of love, belonging and joy.
Nathan: We will practice courage in our family. By showing up, letting ourselves be seen and honouring our vulnerabilities. In our home we will share our stories of struggle and strength – there will be room for both.
Diana: We will teach you compassion by practicing it with ourselves and with each other. We will set and respect boundaries. We will honour hard work, hope and perseverance. Rest, play and adventure will be our family values and we will practice them often.
Nathan: You will learn accountability and respect by watching us make mistakes and make amends. We will always talk about what we need and how we feel. We will all know joy by practicing gratitude.
Diana: When uncertainty and scarcity visit, we will show you how to draw on the spirit that is part of our everyday life. Together we will cry, face our fears and know grief. And although we will want to take away your pain; we will instead sit with you and teach you how to feel it and grow from it.
Nathan: We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves in this home – no matter what, you will always belong here.
Diana: Rupert and Clara we want to give you these gifts. And although we cannot show or love or teach you anything perfectly – we will live our lives fully and love you with our whole hearts and there you will learn to live yours to its greatest fulfilment and potential.
Nathan: We would like to honour our beautiful boy, Rupert for the many kindnesses he shows his sister, Clara every day. We see their friendship grow and while they will have their challenges they share a very loving bond.
Diana: We would also like to acknowledge Rupert and Clara’s adoring grandparents – Papa and Nanny—Michael and Cheryl, Grandma and Grandpa—Rod and Judy. You bring unconditional love, experience and support that we couldn’t do without. The time you spend with them will always be treasured.
Nathan: Rupert and Clara—your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all love you and take great joy in watching you grow. And to all our family and friends—you make our daily lives richer and the time we spend with you all will help shape our children into wonderful, loving humans. Thank you all for being here.
Celebrant: I’d like to invite Clara’s papa, Michael, to come forward and share a blessing.
(To family and friends) I would like to request that you take this moment to offer your blessings to Diana and Nathan, to Rupert and Clara—silently wishing them good fortune and many blessings.
As a symbol of our participation in this family’s life, I would like to invite the ‘family members’ to come forward and share the blessings we wrote earlier.
Close of Ceremony: When choosing Clara Rose’s name, Nathan and Diana really enjoyed a few links to the name Clara – music of all genres is a huge part of their family life. Clara Schumann was a wonderful female classical composer in a time dominated by male composers. Clara is also the name of the main character in Diana’s favourite ballet – The Nutcracker; and last but not least, it also happens to have the same meaning as Rupert’s name—fame, clear, bright. Rupert and Clara are truly Nathan and Diana’s shining lights!
Rose is Diana’s middle name, and is particularly meaningful to their family, honouring Diana’s maternal grandfather and grandmother.
Diana and Nathan, on behalf of everyone here, I thank you for bringing us together and we honour you as parents and wish for you a family life rich with love and laughter, peace and happiness.
Family and friends, thank you for your presence here today.
We will close the ceremony with a quiet round of applause so as not to startle this little one–
I would like to honour and welcome… Clara Rose. (Quiet clapping and cheering!)
(For this enactment there were no certificates)
Question asked by a celebrant after the ceremony: What would you do if you included godparents/guardians/supporting parents?
In preparation for a naming ceremony: I would ask parents: What do you want from those who you want to fulfil this role? What would you like to me to acknowledge about the godparents/guardians/supporting parents in the ceremony? If they were uncertain I would give them some ideas. Did they want the godparents/guardians/supporting parents to speak at the ceremony?
And I would ask if it would be ok to connect with each of the godparents/guardians/supporting parents—and ask them: What does it mean to be asked to fulfil this special role? Is there anything you would like to say?
If you participated in this ceremony at the Conference I’d love to hear, in the comments below, how it was for you. What did you love, like and appreciate about the enactment; and what would you add or change?
Also if you didn’t attend, I’d love to hear any comments on this post.