Taking It Home
... each of the three times I have been present at the birth of one of my children, I have been overwhelmed by a sense of reverence... It was quite suddenly, the first day of creation; the Goddess giving birth to a world... Like men since the beginning of time I wondered: What can I ever create that will equal the magnificence of this new life? — Sam Keen, author
IN TODAY'S SESSION... we said that, as Unitarian Universalists, we hold life sacred, in reverence. We talked about birth and new life. Births are special times in the lives of families and the congregation; child adoptions are also special, because they represent a new beginning in life. We examined how Unitarian Universalists celebrate births and beginnings with the ritual of child dedication, and what "dedication" means. We also talked about other ways people celebrate and honor new life.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... fairy tales where a new baby is received with special reverence, or dedicated. One is the tale of Sleeping Beauty: The mother wishes for a child and her wish comes true. The queen and king do not dedicate the baby as we might in a UU congregation. But the baby is blessed by wise women, with the same kinds of words one might hear in many naming ceremonies. Of course, the story includes a curse and a handsome prince—that part is different. Read the story on If You Love to Read or watch a movie version. Discuss it with family and friends. What part of the story to you like? What parts do you dislike? How are women and men portrayed in the story?
Family Adventure. Talk about your name. Does it hold a special meaning? Were you named after someone in your family, a friend, or a famous person? Why were you given the name you have? Does your name mean your parents hoped to "dedicate" you to something?
Family Game. Ask an older family member to create a name game with you. You will need paper to make a list, and index cards to write clues for the game. List the names of every family member you will be able to contact. Then, privately ask each family member about the origin of their name. They might tell you they are named after someone, or what their name means. They might say something like "My mother just liked the name!" Make this a game bywriting each name on an index card. Write the origin of that name on another index card. Write a number on the backs of both cards so you will be able to match them later. To play, ask family members to match each name with a story. Invite family members to play the game when you are together, such as at a holiday meal. Some family members may have more stories about one another's names. You may even find that people disagree about some of the stories!
Family Ritual. What rituals does your family have for welcoming a new member? Is there a ritual for when a new baby is born? Are there any rituals that were held when your parents or grandparents were born that your family does not use anymore? Talk to the elders in your family—grandparents, aunts, great uncles. Were they dedicated as a newborn or young child? Or did they have another kind of ceremony, perhaps in a church, a synagogue, or a special outdoor place?