In a time when images of willful wild destruction of property are in the news, I am reminded of a ceremony I participated in:
Name That Plate.
A number of years ago I held a ceremony at the time of a painful divorce that included breaking crockery. As a female who’d spent most of her life taking care of things and people around her, it seemed like a freeing thing to do. And it was.
But this was not willy-nilly destruction. I went to the thrift store and found lots of mismatched saucers, tea-cups, small plates and cups for cheap. I gathered a group of women around me who were dear friends, sisters-in-love. Each of us was invited to bring something from home we wanted to destroy if we so wished. A large metal trash-can stood in the center of the room, with a covering of newspaper. The center of the newspaper had been cut out to allow for things hurling in — the rest of the newspaper was there to help prevent things flying out.
And here was the beauty of the ceremony: Before you could throw a plate (or a cup, or anything else you felt like tossing away from you) you had to name it. And we did. All of us named our plates:
“This is the years I turned a blind eye…” smash.
“___(insert name of person here) ____”
“This is the feeling of inadequacy and failure that I don’t deserve.”
“This is because I was always second best to my mom”
“Because my dad never said he loved me…”
the list went on and on from all of us.
All of us good girls, good wives, good mothers who had been squashing our resentments and angers and feelings of inadequacies for far too long.
And the smell of the ozone from the broken glassware and ceramic saucers was a heady mix of negative energy pent up in our bodies for too long and the shock of our own willful destroying of pretty things.
And it felt good. It felt powerful. But it also felt contained and safe.
You could not throw something into the junk heap of time without naming it first. That gives power to us over our darkness, to our demons, our hurts, to the long cry of the child who has held it in for far too long.
I understand the desire to throw things sometimes. But you’ve got to name that plate first.