Sunday, May 20, 2007


At church this morning, we had a flower communion. This is a Unitarian tradition, and we've certainly participated in this type of service in the past. However, there was something in this service that moved me to write this post.

UU churches aren't all the same - different congregations do things in different ways. One aspect I've seen in several churches is called various things. A time for all ages, children's story time, etc. At our church, they typically have this on alternating weeks, and usually the minister sits on the chancel and invites the kids to come forward while he tells a story related to the sermon. This morning there were not very many kids present (our boys actually go straight to their class at the moment, but we'll probably start bringing them to the first part of the service this fall), but two went up to sit with Marc. He told about the origin of the flower communion and talked about how we're all different but the same. He then asked if the children would like to help him bless the flowers.

One of the two kids, a small 5 year old boy, said, "What does bless mean?" To Marc's credit, he gave a great answer. He said something like, "When you bless something you make it beautiful with your words or your wishes, asking the universe to make it special". There was a bit more explanation, but this was the meat of the matter. The kids (and the rest of the congregation) then participated in the blessing of the flowers.

But I was really struck by the exchange. The bravery of the boy to ask the question in front of the whole church, and the minister's response simple enough for him to understand. And though I was attentive through the rest of the service, my mind stayed stuck on that definition of blessed. I've often (okay, always) kind of been put off when people talk about being blessed, but that is mostly based on my unpleasant experiences with organized religion.

It made me think about what it means to be blessed, or to bless. I struggle every day with my parenting, wondering if I'm good enough, if I'm too harsh, if I yell too much, and so on. And the definition that Marc gave today somehow allowed me to think in a different way, a way that perhaps can help me stay more grounded as I go about the business of raising my two wonderful children. How can I make my kids, myself even, beautiful with my words or wishes? How can I make them special? I don't know the answer yet, but you can be sure I'm going to be working on it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Brotherly Love

We just got back from a week in southern Utah, where we were staying with my grandmother. She'll be 90 this summer, and I thought it was important to get out there with the boys while we still could.

Mind you, the desert has never been a favorite place of mine. Dry, hot, and bright. It actually didn't end up being all that bad - the first few days were in the mid to upper 70's, but by the time we left it was in the upper 90's. Even so, I can appreciate why people live there. It is beautiful.

We managed to make it to both Bryce and Zion National Parks, and enjoyed both. Zion was more successful, primarily because it was a shorter drive to get there and because they have a shuttle bus that runs through the canyon. The boys, of course, were totally into that. And they had fun running around the trails. Kemper wanted me to take pictures of all the caterpillars he found (and there were TONS), while Rowan was more interested in jumping off of rocks.

The biggest drag was the travel time, though. Flying for 7 plus hours is just not fun, and having 3 year olds along doesn't help. Don't get me wrong, the boys did extremely well. Better than us, really. I had packed all these little toys to dole out on the way, but didn't need any of them. Which worked out well, since the trip home got a little rough and I was glad to have some new things for them. On the first leg, the boys and I were all together in a row. We all fell asleep, but after a couple of hours Kemper woke up. He got a little fussy, so I took out one of the new toys. It was a small die cast metal biplane. His eyes lit up, he smiled, then he looked at me and said, "Is there one for Rowan too?" What a sweet boy.