RITUAL: A Blessing for Children

Every Person Born into This World*

Every person born into this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique. It is the duty of every person… to know and consider that s/he is unique in the world in his particular character, and that there has never been someone like him before. For if there had been someone like her before, there would be no need for her to be in the world. Every single person is a new thing in the world and is called upon to fulfill his particularity in the world.

-Martin Buber, Jewish philosopher/religious existentialist

 

A Child’s Blessing for Isaac and Emmett

February 19, 2012

 

Gathering – Upon arrival, each guest is invited to write words on colored ribbon — words of blessing forIsaac (3 years old), Emmett (7 months), and words of encouragement for parents, Joel and Jessica. The ribbons are tied to two young apple trees, one for each child.

Love Ribbon, photo courtesy, L. Muller

 

Welcome!  (Lauren speaks to the importance of ritual, stressing that the unique presence of those invited to attend a ritual are largely what makes a ritual sacred,)

Rituals create space for us to make real the prayers we tend to keep most close to our hearts; rituals create space for us to honor and to celebrate.  Let’s begin with the simplest one:

Isaac, big brother extraordinaire, photo courtesy L. Muller

 

What are we celebrating?  That these healthy beings,Isaac and Emmett have been born to Joel and Jessica; that Isaac, it turns out, is an EXCELLENT big brother, and has happily accepted this role.

What are we honoring?  A couple things.  We’re honoring the bliss and joy of parenting.  Among the sacrifices and challenges Jessica and Joel have accepted as parents, today we are creating a moment of pause for Joel and Jessica to acknowledge that now, well into their roles as mother and father, they are finding their way beautifully, and loving what they are a part of in the lives of Isaac and Emmett.

We’re also honoring the love of this community.  The roles each of you play in     providing the patience, the laughter, the insight and support needed by parents and young people, alike. Within this community, there is more than enough wisdom, and more than enough love for this family to grow, grow and grow.

Joel, Isaac, Jessica & Emmett, photo courtesty, L. Muller

What are we praying for?  As a community who loves this family, we pray for the continued love and patience bondingJessicaandJoel; that they continue to discover both practical strength and romantic surprise to sustain one another in every parenting challenge that finds them.  And we’re praying for courage.  What does it mean to be a young person in these times?  Today, we pray for the spirits of courage and curiosity to fall abundantly on these boys so they might readily employ the divine creativity sown deeply within them – and so dearly needed in our world.

 

Candle of Remembrance – A candle is lit to call close those who are not physically present, but who are the lineage that is Isaac and Emmett.  The flame, remembers us to those who’ve passed on or who are not able to join us today.

 

Lauren officiates, photo courtesy L. Muller

Martin Buber’s words (above) instruct us accept the truth of our Divine heritage, to know that our life’s work is delightfully simple: to offer the goodness within each of us, by living life to its fullest!

Within Judaism, there is a tradition of burying a son’s foreskin beneath a fruit tree.   Today, we are embracing and re-envisioning this custom by planting two boxes beneath this fruit tree.  In this way, we are symbolically recognizing our roles the lives of Isaacand Emmettto fertilize, tend and enjoy their growth.  May Isaac and Emmett, like the trees, grow strong and resilient, embracing each season and the changes life brings!!

Joel and Jessica will plant the two boxes beneath the two trees. Joel will offer the traditional blessing in Hebrew and English.

 

Buddies Ribbon, photo courtesty, L. Muller

Offerings from Those Gathered

“Nana Sharon” reads a beautiful letter she has written her grandsons  to honor this day. Lauren invites others to share words they’ve written on the ribbons as an offering to Jessica, Joel and the boys.

 

Blessing Isaac, Blessing Emmett – Lauren provides Joel and Jessica essential oil and offers words of blessing forIsaac:

UponIsaac’s head;

Isaac, you are connected, protected, loved, and blessed by the Divine. 

His heart:

Isaac, your heart is blessed so that you may feel compassion for yourself and others. 

Anointing Isaac's Hands, photo courtesy, L. Muller

 

His hands:

Isaac, your hands are blessed so that you may reach out to the world. 

His feet:

And Isaac, your feet are blessed so that you may connect with the earth and stand your ground in this world. Know that your spirit is strong and it will guide you through this life. Know that you are not alone, that you are deeply loved and that your presence brings overwhelming joy. 

 

Then, Isaac is given oil forEmmettand we repeat the above for his baby brother.

Isaac anoints Emmett, photo courtesy, L. Muller

 

Parents’ Blessing – Lauren reads from Khalil Gibran’s, The Prophet:

Your Children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.  They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.  You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Please have a mandarin! photo courtesy, L. Muller

 

Fruit Offering – Isaac proudly offers a mandarin to each guest, symbolizing the gift that his own life is and will continue to be, a tree bearing fruit for others to enjoy.  Amen!


Emmett, feeling blessed, photo courtesty, L. Muller

 

 

 

* – Inclusive language mine

Living Compassion, a homily

[This homily was offered at the inaugural (now monthly) service for The Interfaith Congregation for Healing and Creative Ministries]

 

Living Compassion

Happy Summer!  Right now, we are in the season of transformation.  In this time of long-lit days, cornstalks stretch high in the fields, grapes grow heavy & plentiful on the vine, and humans gather on porches and patios to tackle projects and share new ideas.  It is a time of empowerment and inter-relatedness, and I’ve been asked to share some thoughts about “Living Compassion.”

What do the World Religions say of Compassion?  Truly, the sources are many, but to keep this succinct, I’ll offer just a few:

Buddhism: “The Great Compassionate Heart is the essence of Buddhahood” (Gandavyuha Sutra)

Christianity: “…be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” (1Peter3:8)

Judaism: “The world stands upon 3 things: upon the law, upon worship and upon showing kindness.” (Mishnah, Abot 1.2)

Sikhism: “Make your mosque of compassion, your prayer mat of sincerity.” (Adi Granth, Var Majh, M. 1, p. 40)

Chief Seattle, of theDuwamishNation: “Our God is the same God, whose compassion is equal for all.”

Are we getting this?  I imagine I’m quite literally preaching to the choir.  Fundamentally, we agree with these texts and teachers…

Hinduism: “When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of another as if they were his own, he has attained the highest state of spiritual union.” (BhagavadGita6:32)

And this experience of spiritual union, of inner peace, our True Nature – call it what you wish – is something for which I imagine we strive.  These sacred texts and plenty of other others reiterate what we might label as, “The Golden Rule,” and yet, for me when compassion is presented in this way, it’s just too theoretical.  The operative word here isn’t “compassion,” but “living!”  This implies active embodiment.  And since it’s all too easy to say and make plans about what I’m going to do the NEXT time I encounter another who deserves compassion, I want to invite us to live compassion in this moment, right now.

Place a hand on your heart, and call to mind a few activities that made up your day today. You may have been chipping away at a long-term goal.  You may have been addressing an immediate task.  First and foremost, did you bring compassion to yourself in this process?  Did you speak kindly to your perceived sense of being inadequate or failing?  Did you take the moment to celebrate an accomplishment, or to nurse a hurt feeling?  Did you firmly guide yourself away from self-destructive tendencies and back into the game when part of you rebelled, threw a tantrum, or gave up?  This is living compassion; in this way, our life becomes a sacred text for ourselves and in our relationships with others.  And it’s NOT simple!!! It demands vigilance, and tough love, and it’s essential in our pursuit of health, wholeness and peace.

To close, I want to draw upon the strengths of the season at hand.  Just a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the solstice, the longest day of the year.  Hafiz, the Sufi poet, reveres the sun thusly,

Even after all this time 
The sun never says to the earth, 
“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with 
A love like that, 

It lights the Whole Sky!

Did you know that since it was born a star, our sun transforms 4 million tons of itself – every second – into light?[1]  No self-empowerment issues there!!!  And talk about inter-related!!?? This outpouring of sunlight creates the photosynthesis upon which our lungs and stomachs depend!

The Sun's Generosity! Credit: NASA/European Space Agency

Like sunlight becoming the earth’s vitality, does our living compassion toward ourselves grow inter-relatedness with others and all of life?  I believe so…and I invite you to think about it.  As you go about your lives in the next days, notice what feels heavy in your heart.  What in this world brings fatigue that is yours to tend and transform?

May we set about to penetrate each moment of our lives with compassion.  And may we find therein wisdom enough, space enough and love enough to light the whole sky.  May it be so!



[1] Swimme, Brian.  The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos: Humanity and the New Story, pp. 40-42. Orbis Books, 1996.