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Greet upcoming year with burning bowl ceremony

December 24, 2013 Updated: December 24, 2013 at 9:00 am
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Jennifer Mulson photographed Wednesday, August 28, 2013. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Sayonara, 2013.

You were a doll compared with 2012 and hopefully an auspicious precursor to a 2014 that's aces, baby.

I'm all about saying some sort of "official" farewell to the old year and inviting in the fresh one. Last year, it was cold and icy, and I was admittedly a bit morose after a breakup and a lot of change. I needed something to make me feel better so I created my own ritual at my kitchen table, with tealights, note cards, a few tears (OK, a lot) and a hopeful heart.

I'd like to think it did the trick, though, because I feel a whole lot brighter and more optimistic these days.

If you don't feel up to making your own rite of passage, Unity Church in the Rockies has a way to help you say goodbye and hello.

The Rev. Ahriana Platten has led the burning bowl ceremony on New Year's Eve since 2011, though it's been an annual event at the church for at least a decade. Unity is a multifaith, open community based in practical Christianity that is oriented toward use in everyday life, Platten said. Everybody is welcome, and you don't have to be a member of the church to attend the ceremony.

Platten said about 150 typically attend the hourlong service.

"It's nice for people going out that night," she said. "They still have that moment to be very sacred and holy, and take a serious moment to do something for themselves before going into party mode."

Attendees receive an envelope, sheet of paper and piece of flash paper. The latter is what magicians use. When you hold the paper over a candle, it doesn't get hot or burn; it only flashes and disappears.

On the flash paper, guests write something they want to leave behind from the past year and then, one by one, everybody walks up to the candle altar and poof! That not-so-good thing evaporates.

After the burning ceremony, Platten guides participants through an eight-minute meditation on the upcoming year. Then guests use the sheet of paper to write a letter to themselves.

"It's about what I'm envisioning for my year and what I want to be supported in, what I want divine energy in," Platten said.

Attendees address the envelope and throw it in a basket on their way out. In July, the church sends the letters back to participants.

"You leave here knowing what you think you're doing and then you receive the letter in the middle of the year," Platten said.

"Am I on the path? Have I stayed true to what I want to do? It helps people to see the good stuff they've done and helps bring them back to what they want to create. It's a sweet surprise to open the mailbox and see that letter. Six months is long enough to forget what you said to yourself."

Burning Bowl Ceremony

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 31

Where: Unity Church in the Rockies, 1945 Mesa Road

Cost: Free; 471-4556, unityrockies.org

How do you celebrate the ending and beginning of the year? Drop me a line at jen .mulson@gazette.com.

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