Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blessing Baby

We recently had our new son blessed at church by my husband. Following the baby blessings of our two older children, we celebrated with extended family and friends. This time, we had a smaller event. We invited only immediate family because we were hoping to celebrate in our new family room and we weren't perfectly confident we could finish it in time. I didn't invite a large crowd for fear that we would not get the room done and have no place to seat our guests. However, I hope I can share some of the spirit of the occasion here.

He blessed our baby with faith in God, that he would know that he is a son of God and that he would nurture and cherish his relationship with God.

He blessed him with meekness, that he would be a kind and gentle man who would love the people he would come in contact with.

Then he blessed him with desires to serve in the church, become a missionary and marry in the temple.

Finally, he blessed him that he would look up to and follow the example of his mother.

That last one made me a bit nervous; it could be a blessing or a curse, depending on how well I turn out.  Of course, I always stay out of trouble, so I can rest assured that if he follows in my footsteps I won't have to bail him out of jail or check him into rehab.  But I would also like my children to be more inspired, more thoughtful and less petty than me--just altogether better.  What parent doesn't want that?

In my church we don't baptize or christen babies, the blessing is just an optional but beautiful tradition welcoming and celebrating the new child. It is an opportunity to extend some spiritual gifts in addition to the darling new outfits and toys.

I don't believe God withholds gifts from children whose parents don't choose to participate in a formal blessing ceremony like this one.  All children have spiritual gifts; the great joy of the baby blessing is just hearing those gifts described out loud. Perhaps the most important aspect of the blessing is the gentle reminder it provides to the baby's loved ones, especially the parents, that this new child is a unique and special person, a person with unlimited potential that we are honored and privileged to care for and love.

This baby comes to us already as Someone. He is not clay to be molded by me.  In some ways, he is already destined to be somewhat different from me through his own unique spirit and biology.  Yet, as one of his parents, I will be one of the most influential people in his life.  I wield great power to teach and love and educate and motivate him, as well as possibly damage him.  I can only do my best, but I pray that someday I can look back and be confident that, in spite of the mistakes I am sure to make, overall my son was blessed by my example.  That is how I feel about my own loving parents.

In my faith, we always talk about parenthood as a stewardship. Our children are not given to us; they are entrusted to us.  The author of this poem was not of my faith, but I love the way he describes this principle.

On Children  by Kahlil Gibran

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.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

1 comment:

  1. April,
    What a wonderful picture. You are looking good.