Different People, Different Beliefs, One Faith.
A Blessing Before School
By Daniel Gregoire
Back to School – Parents: enter the chill, Children: enter the thrill. Even though I am rather thankful not to have “rushing to catch the early morning school bus” on my agenda; I nevertheless become a schoolboy once more. This time of year I find myself filled with excitement, and hope and memory. Lots of memories, now.
Like the memory of a tradition from my boyhood that I really miss and I would recommend it to us as a faith community, especially those of us with children. The tradition is prayer before stepping out of the house for school.
Let me give you a bit of my social context. I was raised by my religious grandparents, and my very religious grandmother who would often insist that I say a prayer before leaving the house, especially when school was in session. Grandma was a fervent believer in the power of prayer to change things, to avert or undo disasters. She also believed in the power of prayer, I understand it now, to establish a relationship between the individual and the divine. Now, grandma had a very specific idea of what she meant by the “divine” deeply rooted in her Pentecostal Christian tradition.
As a child, prayer seemed like another step, perhaps an annoying, or, at the very least, an unnecessary step to take before going out into the world. “What could go wrong grandma?”
And, if the idea of prayer is to simply curry some special favor from an anthropomorphic deity, perhaps it is indeed a poor use of time. Rather, if prayer was an opportunity to establish a relationship, even if that relationship were with oneself, or better yet, to set an intention for the day, then it is worthwhile.
When you send your precious wee-folk to school, perhaps you might ask them “did you pray?”
Did you set your intention for today?
How do you want to be in the world today?
Their response to these and other questions are as prayerful as any supplications for protections against seen and unseen dangers. We might encourage our children to be helpful, to be kind, to share their best selves with the world. We could encourage them to move with safety and wisdom and creativity as they move through their classes and extracurricular activities.
Prayer everyday might be a bit much…for some.
But consider this: praying with your child right now, right now creating sacred space and giving voice to your intention for this new school year and allowing them an opportunity to give voice to their intention. I believe you will be strengthening your relationship to each other, and your relationship(s) to the “divine” however you understand that holiness that surrounds (and, at times, confounds) us. And, if nothing else, you’ll be creating special memories that may very well last a life time.