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And so in this week of anniversaries, Monday my wedding anniversary, yesterday was my ordination anniversary. Three years since I ordained an Interfaith Minister. The ceremony wasn't as we expected because of covid. Instead of gathering with each other, our tutors, friends and family in a hall together, our ceremony was online. Although we must have been free enough between lockdowns to travel and to gather to some extent. And so, my study group and I came together in the Dunoon. Four of us. My OneSpirit sisters who I'd journeyed with over the two years of our intensive training... deeply sharing our explorations of the faith paths, our lives, our ceremonies, all the challenges the training brought up in us to work through. We gathered for a blended online/offline experience! So strange now to think about, those covid times. And the way life was. My friend and sister Minister had created a beautiful space in her house for the four of us to ordain. We had gorgeous flowers. And a bowl of water at the centre with water from two sacred wells in north and the south of Scotland, from the Isle of Skye and the Borders. We each brought oils for anointing and decided to mix them... as a way of honouring our connection... frankincense, rose, spikenard and a blended goddess oil. The OneSpirit team did an awesome job of creating a wonderful ceremony online! With music and speeches and ritual and presentation. We even had a fire burning throughout the ceremony with a fire keeper! Amazing to reflect on when we were all just trying to work out how to do life in this new way with all its rules and restrictions... Sixty nine of us being ordained. The largest group OneSpirit had had to date. From three different cohorts. Mine, a residential training in Northern Ireland. The others in London and online. Everybody who started the training in my cohort completed. Quite amazing everyone got through it and not one dropped out. Despite the intensity of the training AND the amount of life that gets thrown at you in two years (including covid), everyone managed to stay the course! The ordination ceremony was delivered through the medium and magic of Zoom webinar, which meant we were visible on screen, each of us alone or in small groups in our homes, our tutors in their homes. Each section of the ceremony punctuated by a live stream of the fire, kept by the fire keeper! There was even live music played by musicians, again in their homes. Quite a feat to orchestrate... with people appearing on the screen to play their part before disappearing for the next person to appear! After a welcome and invocation calling in the God of our understanding, there were speeches from OneSpirit, presentations from each of the three classes of 2023, music and prayers after which we moved into the ritual of ordination. Invited to be off screen as we walked through the process step by step, the four of us in physical presence, and all 69 of us virtually. We presenced ourselves... placed our stoles over our heads... spoke (or silently) said our vows, these words we'd spent weeks allowing to land with us, our personal promise as ministers for how we vow to show up in the world... and we annointed ourselves with the oil crossing the threshold and into life as a Minister. So powerful, so moving, so beautiful. I loved that the process wasn't something that was 'done to us', it was something we chose in our sovereign beings, something we stepped into wholeheartedly for ourselves, something that felt fully authentic. Had we been in person at that point we would have been held and blessed and affirmed by the faculty of OneSpirit, our tutors who'd also journeyed with us for two years, as it was this was virtual and instead of hugs from them I got to hug my study group sisters! And then, we were announced! As Reverends!

Our names called so we could step forward (back on screen) and be celebrated. Our families were gathered in another room, watching the ceremony on an enormous screen set up for the occasion and we heard their in-person cheers (albeit with a slight delay in the streaming!). And as the ceremony came to a close, our families came to congratulate us in person. It was beautiful and wonderful and creative and magical and it was sad and grief filled and a wee bit heartbreaking... for the ending... for the online-ness... for the last three in person retreats replaced with zoom... for the final gathering that never happened... for missed hugs with all those we had journeyed with... I'm so overdue a trip to Ireland to connect with everyone again!!! When I think about all we lost in covid it feels almost impossible to comprehend. My losses were small in comparison with many, and yet they were still losses. So many losses... of freedoms and friendship, of choice and connection, of certainty and security, of holding and hugs, of travel and togetherness. Which leaves me questioning... where are the conversations and ceremonies to honour the losses? The sadness? The grief? Whatever the size and scale. There is so much healing work yet to be done. Maybe my trip to Ireland, when I finally get there, will be my own ceremony, filled with connection and ritual and holy wells and singing and story telling, My own healing ceremony. And so 3 years after my ordination... and 3 and a bit years after covid began... is there work for us to do together? Would you welcome some accompaniment, some holding? Some healing ceremony? Something creative, honouring you and all you've been through in a way that feels authentic for you? Please do connect if this feels resonant. Happy to connect and chat to explore...

With love, Jo x

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