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.