A year ago we hosted a Welcome Baby Blessing for our then-9-month-old baby boy. As we’ve rounded the bend to the one-year anniversary of that day, I find myself sneaking looks at these photos again with fresh eyes and a warm heart.
For some events, the stars align. I remember thunderstorms were forecasted for that early Sunday in June and we didn’t have a contingency plan. I didn’t want to settle for anything other than the circle of rocks next to the pond at our favorite Brooklyn park. An hour before the event was to begin, the sun officially declared herself present and so did we, for a day of welcome, honoring, and community.
I love officiating all kinds of ceremonies, but Baby Blessings always have a unique energy that I appreciate — the unpredictable nature of the Baby of Honor on any given day is always a huge variable, not to mention the customary presence of lots of other kids, and, I think, a shared feeling among participants and guests of wanting something sweet and simple yet unique; something truly ceremonious and yet casual. I love the presence of these paradoxes and the opportunity to somehow bridge them.
For our own baby, of course, stakes were high because naturally I was tempted to incorporate every single good idea I had ever produced in a Baby Blessing. So, we did the kitchen sink approach — invited in some Hermann Hesse, a healthy dose of Shel Silverstein, some Velveteen Rabbit, some Mary Oliver, and of course, the Beatles for our little Blackbird.
It was colorful and homemade and long and sunny and lovely…and it went something like this:
smudging — the space; the kids holding their arms in the air and spinning; the homespun altar
josh and annie do what they do — play sweet tunes together in a sweet way
a little Rainer Maria Rilke to open our ears and hearts
homage to the four elements
Orlis’ mama-made baby quilt at the center of the altar
other objects of significance
the message-filled garland from our Commitment Ceremony 5 years ago
our Top 6 family values — honed just for the occasion
6 beloved friends and family members illustrating them with readings
a letter from orlis’ goddess mother
“As I write this to you, I am aware of the importance of the day, and the words, and, simply, the importance of you. I worry that the words will not be perfect. And what a reminder that is, for me, about how much growing there is to do, always. For the lesson that everything is perfect as it is, everything is perfect in its imperfection, is one that both deeply resonates with me and requires frequent re-learning.” — From dani’s letter (spoken like a true goddess mother)
our birth story
time capsule — an old suitcase becomes a treasure trove — he’ll open it in 12 years and find significant gifts galore!
we make a public commitment as parents — we get help from michael and he wears his Kippah
we ask a promise from the community
we send a word-wave prayer around the circle
we sing this little light of mine
we eat snacks and cupcakes.
As I think now, about that day, small moments stand out to me, and I hope they will continue to…that I’ll be able to share these photos with Orlis and conjure up the feelings that were present that day when we formally welcomed him. The breeze in our midst, the emotion passing through all of us as we re-visited “authenticity” as told by the Velveteen Rabbit, everyone cuddled on quilts, the feeling of making a public promise, and these words: the lesson that everything is perfect as it is, everything is perfect in its imperfection, is one that both deeply resonates with me and requires frequent re-learning. I remember the trees and the smudge smoke and the candles miraculously staying lit, and the joggers running by without a notion something important and sacred was happening just feet away from them. I remember watching the Time Capsule being filled with gifts of meaning, knowing what a different boy he’ll be when he finally opens it. And I remember the sound of everyone singing.
If you know anyone who lives in the greater Portland area who might be interested in having a Baby Blessing for their child, please pass this post along (email button below) or have them contact me and mention the code, “Treelife Blog” to get a 10% discount if they book before Sept. 1st, 2012. If you want to learn more about Baby Blessings by me, click here.