Thursday, February 19, 2015

BryonySeries Throwback Thursday: Grandma, Can I Have a Blessing?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Grandma, Can I Have a Blessing?

That question (minus "the grandma") is a common refrain in our household at bedtime, and one that has been resounding since my oldest child--almost thirty-one and standing nearly six-ten--was eighteen months old and wearing one-piece, zippered sleeper pyjamas with plastic feet.

That's when I was reading a series of child rearing books by 1950's Catholic mother of seven Mary Reed Newland, the best source of mothering wisdom I've ever encountered. In one of her books, Newland briefly mentioned how, after witnessing another family use the custom, she and her husband began giving her children "blessings:" at bedtime, before special events, etc.

The concept appealed to me, so I began adding this blessing prayer with the goodnight kiss:Christopher David, may the blessing of the Lord be upon you always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. While doing so, I traced a little cross on his forehead. Christopher, although non-verbal at the time, was soon babbling back to me and tracing marks on my forehead with his tiny index finger.

As Christopher's siblings arrived, bedtime blessings lengthened and included Sarah Catherine, Joshua Paul, Timothy Michael, Rebekah Anne, and Daniel John. Most of the adult children living in my household still request blessings at bedtime, and I still receive them in return. If our schedules cross, we text them to each other.

As my children began having children, some of most of them continued the tradition, too, which was soooooo cool for me to experience. And of course, when I see my grandchildren, the goodbyes always include a blessing.

Friday evening, as I was walking out the door for the night, my five year old grandson stopped me with a, "Grandma, can I have a blessing?" After I happily bestowed that upon him, I asked him for one in return. I bent low; Ronnie placed his little hand on my forehead and recited the sweetest prayer. Then he gave me a quick hug and dashed away to find Uncle Daniel.

It's such a simple practice, and yet...think of the many, many decades of prayers we have raised heavenward on each other's behalf. The custom has created more than a family legacy, but a treasure whose value we'll realize only in eternity.

Mary Reed Newland, I owe you.

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