NORTH PORT — In nearly every tradition, the new year symbolizes a time of endings and beginnings, a time when folks say goodbye to the old to make room for the new.
“In order to do this, we must let go of the things that hold us back. If you can see your life is unmanageable in some aspect and you want to do something about it, you can,” speaker Tim Wetmore said to a group of 40 devotees gathered Tuesday afternoon for a New Year’s Day White Stone Ceremony at Unity Church of Peace, 1250 Rutledge St. (off Veterans Boulevard), on the North Port/Port Charlotte line.
For each of the past five years, the church has invited its friends and members to meditate and sit in silence, mentally releasing the challenges they’ve faced in the previous 12 months, and embracing a new cycle filled with hope, potential and opportunity, said church member Richard Curtis, who led the ceremony.
“(God) doesn’t want you to be burdened with (sorrows). He wants you to be happy, joyous and free — and (to) live in the sunlight of the Spirit,” he said.
During the hourlong ceremony, each person was given a white stone, on which they were to write “a new name that no one knows except for the one who receives it,” Curtis said. The stone, which dates back to antiquity, is meant to symbolize freedom, he said.
“The ancient Greeks used to give their prisoners, once they were let loose, a white stone or rock with an inscription on it that said they were free,” Curtis said. “So when they traveled around the land and reached Macedonia and other places, they (could) show that they were no longer prisoners, that they were free.”
Likewise, the stone each person received at Unity on New Year’s Day should serve as a reminder to cast away outdated thoughts and beliefs that keep people shackled to troubles of the past, he announced. “Let it be a touchstone to wherever it is you need to be in this upcoming year,” Curtis said.
Wetmore said coming together as a group with the intention of letting go of old patterns and negativity helps people to feel more empowered and in control of their lives.
“Step out of the dark,” Wetmore told the audience. “You are the light. Own it.”