Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

I vividly remember how pleased I felt in May 2015 when Ireland became the first country to approve same sex marriage by popular vote.  It truly was a day to remember.  There was over a 60% turnout of people in Ireland to ensure that the ‘Yes’ vote was confirmed at 62% against 38% on the ‘No’ side.

Although I had no personal investment in the outcome, as someone who believes wholeheartedly in equality, it was hugely important to me that Ireland was mature enough to give its citizens the right to marry the person their heart and mind desires.  The outcome of this referendum brought me joy because it had significant meaning for some of my family members, friends and colleagues.   It resulted in an amendment to the Constitution of Ireland to ensure that marriage is recognised irrespective of the sex of the partners.  In other words, it means that all marriage is equal.

Six Years Later

It’s now six years since Ireland said ‘yes’ to marriage equality and at this stage same sex marriages are an everyday occurrence.

However, it’s naive to think that it’s a case of “everyone lives happily ever after”.   To give you a sense of the difficulties that people in Ireland still encounter:

“Government statistics from 2019 have shown that even in the time since the marriage vote, 29% of gay men have reported being physically attacked in public.  While 24% of transgender or intersex people reported suffering similar abuses.”  Irish Examiner 12 Feb 2021

The Catholic Church is still unwilling to bless these unions but based on what has been stated in the mainstream media, it seems that there are a number of wise priests prepared to go against that directive, for those people who may wish to receive a blessing.  However, there are other options such as Interfaith Ministers who are delighted to work with people of all faiths and none.

Is there really a problem?

It might be easier not to connect to this as an issue of concern if there is no one that we personally know who is being impacted.

But just humour me now, and let your imagination run riot…imagine how devastating it would be if this was our child, sibling, friend, colleague. Remember now that the people in the above statistics are someone’s child, sibling, friend and colleague.  And whilst even one person is still suffering, it means that we cannot rest on our laurels.

Dr Aoife Neary, Sociology lecturer in the University of Limerick, is reported as saying that there’s a danger in “declaring certain fights over that have only just begun“.  And she also highlighted that “whilst recent legislative changes are a positive start for many LGBTQI+ people, they can sometimes distract from the compromises that have been made and the cultural realities that exist.”

Vickey Curtis – a spoken word artist and performer who performs under the name of Ragin Spice offers these words of advice to anyone who is young, exploring relationships and figuring out their sexuality, and it’s to “be safe and don’t be afraid”. “Get a safe space to talk, explore it as much or as little as you want, read and watch everything you can.”  

Going in the right direction

I will end with this great quote from James Kavanagh in that same article in the Irish Examiner 12 Feb 2021 “the future isn’t a gloomy void – we’re going in the right direction.  We say cead mile failte, but we’re not at a ‘hundred thousand welcomes’ just yet.”  

This is a link to that full article in the Irish Examiner written by Daniel Byrne because if you haven’t read it – it’s worth reading: https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/people/arid-40222886.html

Live and let live…we can do it – let’s make sure that no one is left behind!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit x 4:  Andrew Wilson

Rev Caroline Lennon

Certified Civil Celebrant and Interfaith Minister based in Ireland. As a non-denominational Minister, there are no limitations to the personal ceremony that can be created exactly as you wish.

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Call Me: 087 9931201

Advocacy: The Gift of Encouragement

Advocacy: The Gift of Encouragement

The role of advocacy in the gift of encouragement

Advocacy in the broadest sense means public support or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.  An advocate can be someone who makes a case on someone else’s behalf.   I see advocacy as willingly showing up for another human being and consciously giving them the gift of encouragement. 

I’ve always been drawn to advocacy work because it’s immensely gratifying.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to help another human being to find and see their own inner light and to come to know their right to be seen and heard.   

What does advocacy and the gift of encouragement look like in reality?

It’s been my experience that anytime I’ve reached out to help someone else, I have received more than I could ever have imagined, and I have definitely grown as a person.  I have never felt alone anytime that I’ve encouraged and supported others.  The increase of love and light in my life has been obvious and my zest for life has increased.  

As a result of the generosity of others, I’m delighted to be able to share two testimonials with you from two amazing women that I met some years ago.  These women are both very different individuals.  When I first met them, their circumstances had some commonalities but there were also significant differences in their stories and the paths that they had travelled.  

Commonalities in stories

What these women had in common was an overwhelming sense of aloneness, not being heard, fearfulness, anxiousness and hopelessness.  And because they’d been going through difficulties on their own for some time, in many ways they had lost sight of their own worth.  They struggled to see their right to be heard, and didn’t see their divine right to have joy in their lives.  

Testimonials 

In order to help others to see the benefit of advocacy and the gift of encouragement, these phenomenal women have agreed to share their experiences.

Pam Rossiter

When I first met Caroline, I was nervous, afraid, felt lost and felt that nobody was listening to me.  After my first meeting with Caroline, I felt worthy, and felt a happy feeling I had not felt in a long time.  Caroline is warm, kind, true and empathetic.  She has a gift of lifting people’s spirits that are at an all-time low.  I could write a full page about the beautiful person that she is and how welcome she made me feel.  She genuinely listens and cares about people and helps people who are feeling low to realise…yes, I am somebody, yes, I deserve to be listened to.  

Anne Mc Kiernan

Caroline was like an angel sent into my life.  I would panic about things and even though we never met, she reassured me and enveloped me with love.  I always knew I would feel less stressed when I contacted her.  The compassion I got was enormous.  I felt that I could relax when she was helping me.  Caroline is an amazing woman that God sent into my life.  I couldn’t go through it alone but with her on my side I felt comforted and protected. I’m just blessed to have had Caroline in my life.

Caroline’s perspective…

My role in the lives of these two outstanding women was simply to be an anchor in the turbulent times that they were experiencing.  In all my efforts to support them, I aimed to be a channel of peace, and to mirror the love and light that I always saw in them.   My gift of encouragement to them helped them to see things differently and to feel less alone.  Slowly but surely they began to see the light at the end of a dark tunnel.  By me simply advocating on their behalf and giving them the gift of encouragement, they in turn were able reconnect to their own inner light.   My companionship and faith in them helped them to see the truth in their lives.  The strength they gained from being encouraged and supported enabled them to find perfect solutions for their situations.

What does an advocate do?

In the two situations above, the gift of encouragement took many forms – at times I just listened, and other times I needed to take action on behalf of the women.  I wrote letters, made phone calls, and sometimes sought appropriate referrals.  However, I believe that a more important aspect of my support was mirroring the truth of who they are and consciously seeing their loving, kind-hearted, hardworking, respectful and good nature.  Helping them to see that their experiences at that time were just a bumpy patch on life’s road, which they could recover and grow from it.  I shared with them that many people, myself included, have encountered and survived similair experiences.   

That’s why advocacy or the gift of encouragement is possibly one of the most valuable gifts in this world.  

If you, or anyone in your life needs the gift of encouragement, please just reach out and ask for help – you will find my contact details below.  This particular service is offered free of charge for anyone who needs it.  It’s as stated – a gift of encouragement.

Rev Caroline Lennon Certified Civil Celebrant and Interfaith Minister based in Ireland. As a non-denominational Minister, there are no limitations to the personal ceremony that can be created exactly as you wish.

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Lessons from A Course in Miracles

Lessons from A Course in Miracles

The world we live in trains people for reliance on one’s judgement and sees it as the criterion for maturity and strength.  A Course in Miracles (ACIM) curriculum trains people for the relinquishment of judgement because it sees it as a necessary condition for salvation.

Love and Fear

Around the time that I was studying ACIM, I was also reading a book written by Karol. K. Truman ‘Feelings Buried Alive Never Die ‘ – one particular quote from that book caught my attention ‘Fear is the darkroom where all the negatives are developed’.

In ACIM it’s clearly stated that there are two states of being – love and fear.  It’s impossible to be in a loving space if we’re living from a place of fear; and the opposite also applies.  If I’m living in ‘FEAR’ the negative aspects within me will ‘develop’ or thrive in that environment.

To make a ‘conscious’ decision not to live in fear is all that’s required in order to elevate oneself to a place of LOVE.  There are and will be days when it may be necessary to make that conscious decision numerous times, due to what can only be described as a type of amnesia.  It’s possible to be committed to a particular way of being or path, but also for that commitment to vanish from consciousness, which makes it necessary to remember all over again.  That doesn’t happen because we’re “thick” or “stupid” – it’s all just part of the human condition.  When we’re aware, it’s easier to spot the disconnect. 

Living life from a loving place takes constant commitment, however, living in a state of awareness from a place of love far outweighs the alternative.  I know what it’s like to live in constant fear and negativity but I’m also fortunate to have experienced what life is like when my own heart is filled with unconditional love for other human beings.

 Unconditional Love

The first time I experienced ‘unconditional love’ was when my son was born and some 35 years later my feelings of unconditional love for him are greater than ever.  I’ve also been blessed to be able to experience unconditional love through the precious relationship with my little granddaughter.  

Unconditional LoveThe person who provided me with the most profound lessons in giving and receiving unconditional love was my beautiful sister.  She was born with Down’s syndrome.  On a soul level her contribution to me, our family, and those who were blessed enough to know her was immeasurable – Brenda was unconditional love personified.

Be the light of the world……

Those beautiful human beings have helped my personal growth in many ways that they know nothing about.  The light within them, helped me to see the goodness in me. That’s my understanding of what it means to be the ‘light of the world’.

Miracles happen when people attempt to be the best version of themselves. And perhaps it’s best to qualify that statement by adding – not the world’s definition of ‘best’ but God’s definition.  Those people who are consciously being the ‘best’ version of themselves will most likely never really know the profound effect they are having on other human beings or realise that it was their light that enabled others to find their way in the dark.

A message that struck me loud and clear (on many levels) during that particular course of study was: Give and you will receive.

Rev Caroline Lennon

Certified Civil Celebrant and Interfaith Minister based in Ireland. As a non-denominational Minister, there are no limitations to the personal ceremony that can be created exactly as you wish.

Let’s Connect

Call Me: 087 9931201

I believe in you

I believe in you

I believe in you?

I believe in you ?. Have you ever experienced a real low spot in your life and wondered how you were going to get back on your feet again? Or, how you’re going to feel happiness or joy again?  Maybe you’ve wondered what it might take for you to be able to experience the feeling of self-respect again.

Throughout my life…

I’ve found that a significant number of people, myself included, have phases in their life where a variation of those types of thoughts and feelings descend on them like a cloud.  Many people find one way or another to push the feelings down,  and many others are fortunate enough to seek help, which allows them to recover, and they go on to live a reasonably happy life.

In recent times I’ve been thinking about an interaction I had with someone about thirty years ago.   It was a time in my life when I was extremely unwell, and I’d almost given up all hope of ever recovering.  I’d been in the hospital for several weeks, and one evening two people came to visit me.  One person was a friend of mine, and the other person was their friend.  Even in my unwell state, I sensed that the friend’s friend had just come to support their friend.  As I was in a lonely and desolate place emotionally, I welcomed and appreciated their visit and their company.

We talked about old times and for a while, I almost felt ‘normal’ again…whatever ‘normal’ was meant to be!

After an hour or so my visitors were getting ready to say goodbye to me, but just before they left, the friend of my friend reached into the pocket of their jacket.  They then took my hands and gave me a small laminated card with a verse on it.

All these years later…

I can still remember the way that I felt when I read what was written on that card.  I looked at my friend’s friend with tears in my eyes, and I thanked them for their kindness towards me.

This one experience proved to me that even when we don’t know someone, a glimmer of hope that’s given with loving-kindness can make such a positive impact on a person’s life.   A gesture like this one can help people to give life another try.

When the intention is to mirror the goodness that we can see in another, it can help the other person to see that little spark of light and that can be enough to encourage them to invest in life again.

This is the verse by Bruce B Wilmer that was on that small laminated card:

I Believe in You

The challenges you now confront
In all you’re going through
Help me see the many ways
That I believe in you.

It’s hard for me to realise
The things that you must face
And though I try I can’t completely step into your place.

But something in my knowledge
Of the depth and soul of you
Gives to every real concern
An optimistic hue.

For when you must respond to life
With pure determination
Your answer to the challenge
Is a source of inspiration.

And through each day’s uncertainty
The future oft obscures,
My hope for you is strong and my belief in you endures.

The potential impact of presence and kindness…

This particular experience helped me to understand the importance of never underestimating a chance meeting or my presence in someone else’s life, and to always try to make the best use of opportunities to extend kindness.

Thirty years later, I can see in my mind’s eye the face of my friend’s friend, and my heart still holds the imprint of their kindness towards me.  And, lest I forget, I always carry that same small laminated card with that verse in my purse.

Why? Because it’s a constant reminder to me to be positive and kindhearted towards other people, and it helps me to remember the importance of being kind to people whose journey I know little or nothing about.

Rev Caroline Lennon Certified Civil Celebrant and Interfaith Minister based in Ireland. As a non-denominational Minister, there are no limitations to the personal ceremony that can be created exactly as you wish.

Let’s Connect

Call Me: 087 9931201

The impact of COVID-19 on wedding plans

The impact of COVID-19 on wedding plans

The Impact of COVID-19 on wedding plans: Life seemed to be so much easier before COVID-19 became part of our world.  It was possible to make plans for a wedding with a reasonable level of certainty that all would go according to plan.  

In 1979, I had my big day out in a Pronuptia bridal gown. The wedding was in the local cathedral with all my family and friends around me and was followed by a reception for 120 people – so I’m well aware of the physical energy and emotional investment that goes into planning a wedding.

Stressful moments in ordinary times

A seemingly small but stressful experience can remain in our memory many years after an event. I vividly recall that the wire hoop for under my wedding dress was not available when I was collecting the dress from the bridal shop in Dublin.  It was meant to be sent by rail to me in good time for the wedding.  The week of the wedding arrived and there was still no sign of it, and I was concerned because the dress was incomplete without it.  I was assured by the manager in the bridal shop that it would get to me in time.  As it happened, the day that it was on its way to me, the parcels’ carriage on the train had a fire in it.  Yes, you’ve guessed – the wire hoop for my wedding dress didn’t survive the fire.  The following day another wire hoop was sent by courier and luckily it arrived the day before my wedding day.  All these years later and I can still remember how stressful that small upset felt at that time.

At the best of times, it can be stressful to plan a wedding because of all the different things that need to be organised.  But, there’s no doubt about it, the arrival of COVID-19 has significantly increased the complexity and stress that’s attached to organising a wedding.

How are couples dealing with uncertainty?

In observing how couples are dealing with the huge uncertainly that exists in trying to plan a wedding with COVID-19 as part of the equation, it strikes me that the only real choices couples have are their reaction to the situation and their attitude.

Most human beings don’t like situations that create uncertainty and anxiety, and so even when couples make a choice that’s not really ideal, like rescheduling their wedding date, it helps to give them the illusion of control.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that in these uncertain times, there’s no guarantee that life will have returned to pre-COVID normality in time for that rescheduled wedding date.

I’m aware of couples who abandoned the idea of a large wedding party because they decided that their absolute priority was just to get legally married.  I’ve known of other couples who have rescheduled their big day a couple of times to have the occasion they’ve been dreaming about.  It’s such an individual and personal decision and there’s no right or wrong way of going about it.  

What’s important is that couples are happy to live with the choices they make.

It serves us all well to remember that nobody is guaranteed tomorrow.  All anyone has is now.

So, the real question is – what’s important to the couple?  Is it marrying their loved one? Is it about bringing a fairytale alive and having a big day out?  Is it the gathering of friends and family?  

A couple’s reaction to these questions and their attitude will determine whether COVID-19 unduly influences their wedding day, or not.  A reasonable point to keep in mind – couples can proceed with their planned date to get legally married, and then sometime in the future, they can have that amazing celebratory day in the company of their family and friends.

As I was writing this article, I remembered a wonderful quote by Dr. Viktor Frankl “Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Couples may not have much control over what’s happening at the moment but they certainly can be in control of their reaction and their attitude in relation to the impact that COVID-19 has on their wedding.

Life is what we make of it!

Rev Caroline Lennon

Certified Civil Celebrant and Interfaith Minister based in Ireland.

As a non-denominational Minister, there are no limitations to the personal ceremony that can be created exactly as you wish.

Same Sex Marriage

I vividly remember how pleased I felt in May 2015 when Ireland became the first country to approve same sex marriage by popular vote.  It truly was a day to remember.  There was over a 60% turnout of people in Ireland to ensure that the 'Yes' vote was confirmed at 62%...

The impact of COVID-19 on wedding plans

To quote Dr. Viktor Frankl “Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Creating Your Wedding Vows

Wedding vows are the heart of marriage

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Call Me: 087 9931201

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