Ever since my children were in preschool, I have said a little prayer over them as I’ve dropped them off for the day. In those early years, it was so hard to leave them in someone else’s hands. Until they went to school, they grew in an environment that was controlled mostly by me. School changed all of that, and some for the better. Certain precious teachers taught my kids independence and a sense of self they probably wouldn’t have gained here at home. As the years go by, the foundation I’ve laid for my children has been tested by their peers and they’ve grown to make their own choices (mostly good ones) as they move independent of me through the halls of their schools.
Even though my kids are bigger now, I still pray every morning. “Lord, please bless and protect my children today in their minds, bodies, and spirits. Help them to know how much they’re loved and how special they are, and let it be a peaceful and happy day for them, their classmates, and their teachers.” After all, they still need blessings, and the challenges they face are more complex to be sure. They need focus and clarity, kindness and compassion, humor, light hearts. The pressure with which they’re bombarded every day requires these weapons, and more. Asking God to walk with them in places I can’t be is one small thing I can do to give them peace, and get some in return.
One other ritual that grew out of those early years is to make the sign of the Cross over their schools if I happen to pass them in my car during the course of the school day. When they were little, I would tell them that I did that, and it always brought a smile to their faces. Sometimes they told me they felt my blessing and sometimes I believed they really did. We haven’t talked about that for a long time, but I still make that Sign when I pass their schools and ask God to watch over them in what they need in that moment. It had become a private ritual for me, and meaningful, but I had no idea of the gift it would become.
I passed my son’s school last week, on my way to teach a class. It happened to be his thirteenth birthday…I blessed him as usual, and then went on my way. Later that night, as he was doing his math homework, he raised his head suddenly and asked, “Mom, did you bless me today at about 9:30?” He had been in math class at that time, felt a strong sense of happiness in his heart, looked up, and noted the time in his math notebook.
And the amazing truth is, I had. Normally, I pass his school earlier on the way to a ten o’clock class, but I was running late and noticed the time when I passed his school. It was 9:32am.
This gift of reassurance meant so much to me. It meant that God hears our prayers and acts on them. It meant that God is about details, and human connection, and simplicity. It reminded me that we need to listen and appreciate moments as they happen, and that God does walk with us, and the ones we love. None of these are new revelations to me, but I love that God gave me the gift of this reminder on the day that my boy turned thirteen. We are all connected to each other, and prayer is one way to make that web more visible in the world.
During this Christmas week, we celebrate that God became one of us and cared for us in our need. I’m grateful for the assurance that He still is and still does. Have a Blessed Christmas with your precious families!