April 4, 2012

Finding our Family Circle—Blessings on the Meal, Peace on the Earth.

Photo by Liza Fox.

“Mama, we are a circle!”

My son’s wide eyes shine as he follows the circle of our clasped hands across the table.

“Like the moon, like mama sun…like pizza.”

I have stood in many circles: in work, in meditation, with shamans, in therapy. But on this random weeknight my little boy called attention to the circle that is our family; the family we created together marked by the ritual circle we lean into and that holds us before each meal.

Joining together for mealtime blessings has become a signifier of the rituals and memories my family is creating together. The table set, a candle lit, hands are held, skin touches skin. In this moment just before we eat we settle in and come back to center, in our bodies and as a family.

This is our time.

Photo by Liza Fox.

For families with formal spiritual practices, blessings might already be part of the day. But for us, collaborative, reflective rituals were missing. Facing the ominous task of crafting a rhythm with infant twins I knew I needed to carve out moments of gratitude and pause and it was with mealtime blessings that I began.

It might sound silly, but I felt like I was taking a risk introducing this ritual to my family: Risking my husband would dismiss it and not join in; risking the kids would not engage and find meaning; risking I would lose my ironic, sardonic edge. But, like all change risk is indeed involved. And wouldn’t you know, my husband joined in without hesitation. My children actually love to sing our blessing now and often ask for more than one…even if they interrupt to inquire how it is that airplanes stay in the sky or begin to dissect their meal with eager interest…or disinterest.  And, if I am honest with myself, I lost that edge a long time ago.

Our blessing and circle opened the door for other rituals; songs for transitions in the day or seasons and for work and play. Together they weave an intentional sonic fabric that holds our family. It was with our blessings that the elusive rhythm began to take shape. In our mealtime circles the children learn to slow down and breathe in before eating, they learn language, experience gratitude…. and apparently, learn geometry.

Photo by Liza Fox.

“We are in a half circle today.” = Daddy is missing.

“What a big circle!” = Relatives are visiting.

“Look! Lots of circles inside our circle!” = We are eating from soup bowls.

The linked hands formed by the guests at the table never cease to awaken a kind of simple joy and wonder, one might even say reverence. Size and shape. Vibration and feel. Circles within circles. Everything is noted.

Our blessing has changed over the years and sometimes within a week or even a day. We have shared our blessing with visiting family and friends and they have shared new blessings with us. Our blessing travels with us when we eat out or go on a picnic; they are not tied to place or time but live within the circle of our family. They remind us to reconnect after the expansion of play, travel, work, and movement; to give thanks to mama earth and father sun, to their union in the fields and to our larger world community.

Photo by Liza Fox.

Arms stretched open I see my little ones ready to start the meal. They are the first to remind us to say our blessing. Small, open palms waiting for touch, song and connection. And in that moment the trials of parenting young children soften and my heart opens wide.

I feel so very thankful to be part of our circle.

Perhaps there is another family out there that is feeling a bit overwhelmed- unsure how to bring more ritual, song, gratitude and connection to the day…

Maybe a little blessing is just the thing you are looking for.

A blessing, offered to us by the Decaters at Live Power Farm, and Marianne Aslop of the San Francisco Waldorf School:

Give thanks to the Mother Earth

Give thanks to the Father Sun

Give thanks to the plants in the garden, where

The mother and the father are one.

Blessings on the meal,

Peace on the Earth.



Editor: Jeannie Page
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