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

Praying with Trees

Forests…appeal to all and awaken inspiring universal feelings. 

…It may be that sometime an immortal pine will be the flag

of a united and peaceful world.

 -Enos A. Mills


And you, how old are you?  I asked the maple tree. 

While opening one hand,

he started blushing.

-Georges Bonneau, Le SensibiliteJaponaise, 1935



It’s true: four days into February and I’m still blogging about New Year’s…because on some calendar, somewhere, it’s always a new year.  Two weeks ago, the Chinese rang in the Year of the Dragon and this coming Tuesday, February 7th, the Jewish calendar will celebrateTuB’Shevat, the New Year for trees.  That’s right, trees!


The celebration of Tu B’Shevat stems from a passage in Hebrew scripture, Leviticus 19:23-25, which explains that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years and it is only after the fourth year (when the fruit is for G-d alone), that the fruit may be eaten.  The New Year for trees, therefore, was a way of commemorating the tree’s age and its pending harvest.   Historical reasons aside, I’m just still delighting in the idea of celebrating a Tree New Year.


It’s blog-worthy.


And while I could spend the next paragraph writing about tree conservation and reiterating why we need them for erosion evasion, water filtration and air purification, I’m not going to.  Nor will I use this New Year to recognize the many tree activists whose stories inspire me every time I consider their efforts: JohnnyAppleseed, Elzéard Bouffier, John Sterling Morton, WangariMaathai, Julia Butterfly Hill…and the monks of Thailand (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0I3Nz4cOeI).


Instead, and as plainly as possible, I want to thank the trees.

Tibetan nuns chanting beneath the Buddha's Bodhi Tree, Bodhgaya, India. 2003

I readily admit my life depends on them – they breathe in my discarded CO2, while providing me O2 in abundance, of course; but they also serve as metaphor in so much of how I make sense of life.  In my work with clients, for example, I’m constantly referring to trees: “What’s in your roots?” “You are growing a solid trunk,” “What have you offered up, in your branches?”   Do you do this, too?  Borrow from trees the strong, regenerative image they represent?


In my last post, I mentioned the frustration I was feeling toward the short-sightedness plaguing our culture.  Reveling in the long-sighted, patient nature of trees, I take deep delight in the Georges Bonneau quote above…


So do it now: picture your tree.  We all have one —  the one in the backyard, from which the tire-swing hung; the one we went to after school to exchange secrets, kisses and important social dirt; the one we’ve sought out for time alone, to whom we cry out, or confess, or find solace when the world’s busyness has become deafening.


Might this week be a time to thank our trees?  I encourage you to offer some gratitude at its trunk, speak your love poem into its bark, bring its fallen leaves to your dining table and offer your thanks to these beings, ever-wise, ever-patient, damn resilient, and ever-generous.


Dear Trees, Thank you, thank you, thank you….and Mazel Tov!  Happy New Year!

Tree Gratitude along Avenue of the Giants