You know how, in a movie, a random flyer on a bulletin board can change a person’s life? (Cue the montage! 🎥 🎬 )
Well, that happened to me.
I knew even before I finished seminary that my calling included more than ceremony. After taking sections on premarital and spiritual counseling, I planned to continue in my seminary’s spiritual guidance program after ordination.
That was the plan…until one evening in early 2012, I went to check out a free info session on non-violent communication in Amherst. As I waited in the lobby for the session to begin, I noticed a flyer for Psychosynthesis Practitioner training at The Synthesis Center.
I’d never heard of psychosynthesis but (even with the funny name!) something about it gave me this fizzy, buzzy, excited feeling. The way it was described on the flyer, psychosynthesis combined western psychology, on the personality level, and eastern spirituality, on the transpersonal level.
That was exactly the intersection I was most interested in exploring…I just hadn’t known something like it existed!
But what was The Synthesis Center? It turned out I was sitting in its lobby. And not only that, but my husband worked directly across the street. His office window literally looked out on the Center. The exact right program in the exact right place had been right there all along.
Within the same week, in July of 2012, I was ordained by my Interfaith seminary and began my 3-year training in psychosynthesis. (It ended up taking me closer to 6 years to complete all the supervision hours required for certification…but that’s because I decided to start a business and get married and buy/renovate an old farmhouse and have a baby then, too!)
Over the past decade I’ve had the honor of sharing A LOT of incredibly meaningful hours with my clients. These Guided Conversations may not be what I’ve built Grace Ceremonies around, but they’ve always been deeply important to my work.
They have always shared a place at the heart of my calling.
Premarital was a natural place to begin my Guided Conversations. There was already a lot of overlap in the questions and reflections that were part of my ceremony planning process. I noticed how helpful and clarifying it was for couples; how they consistently reported feeling closer to each other, more excited about their wedding, and more clear and confident about their lives together beyond the big day.
I help couples develop a better understanding of their strengths and challenges, individually and jointly, and discover opportunities for growth in relationship to themselves, and with each other.
Unlike some premarital counseling or marriage preparation programs utilizing online surveys or other standardized assessments, my Premarital Conversations are led by the unique needs of each couple, as people and as partners.
Christina Rosario Photography
Marriage Check-Ins are as valuable and needed as any work a couple does before their wedding. After all, that’s only the very first day of marriage! Edging closer to a decade of marriage myself, and getting inquiries from couples whose weddings I had officiated in the past, I knew it was time to put this offering out there.
Marriage Check-Ins, like literally *everything* else I do, are about connection. That’s it. Because nothing can grow and change and shift and evolve and bring joy and contentment and meaning and love without it. But how do you get connected and stay connected? Presence.
You have to be present: with yourself, with each other, with your life, with what matters.
I’m not a counselor or a therapist. I call this Conversation a “Check-In” because I am guiding couples BACK IN…with dedicated time and intentional space for themselves and one another. The very act of making this space and time together, to get present, is both an investment in the marriage and a step closer to each other.
It may not be the whole journey…it may not be all the steps you’ll have to take together. But I know, wherever you’re going, the path starts here.
Sandra Costello Photography
“We teach best what we most need to learn,” writes Richard Bach. I hear this idea so often quoted with derision…like, 🤨 Yeah, THEY obviously still have some learning to do! 🙄
But guess what? We’re ALL still learning, and anyone who says they’ve got it all figured out is not a great teacher. My most beloved spiritual teacher, Ram Dass, was to me like a friend on the journey. He never claimed to know anything I didn’t. He said, “We’re all just walking each other home.”
That’s what I love so much about psychosynthesis: we act as guides, not know-it-alls. We walk the questions WITH you, on paths we too have explored.
For me, I most yearn to feel connected to my soul self and to operate from that whole, centered place in my life. It’s the koan I’m constantly pondering; the quest I continually pursue; the still, quiet place within me I am forever finding and losing and finding and losing, again and again.
My new Soul Support Conversations aren’t about telling you everything I’ve learned. They’re not about attainment of some goal or passing on of some sacred knowledge. Guides are like the best teachers: the ones who share their passion with you, and who open the door for you to “live the questions now,” as Rilke put it.
Is this something that calls you? Is there a leap your chest? Do you feel an ache in your heart? A movement in your spirit?
As a guide, my Soul Support Conversations are an invitation to get curious…to go exploring together.
They’re just me, holding out a hand and saying, Hey, let’s go for a walk.