Fionn had a wonderful dedication ceremony yesterday at our church - it was a perfect day weather-wise and we were very grateful for the friends and family that made the drive to see it. Of course, seeing it would be more exciting than reading about it, so I planned on filming the whole occasion for those who couldn't make it. But in the rush to get the boys ready in time to pick up the cake for the reception and get to the church, we left the camera at home. (Insert image of me kicking myself - HARD).
Emerson's dedication ceremony was equally beautiful (we had just learned about his diagnosis, so when the minister blessed him with water and wished that his life may "take the easy way," my mother and I and Emerson's Guidemother all burst into tears that lasted the rest of the ceremony). But I was able to compile this ceremony and write parts of it myself, so that added something different.
Fionn was his fat and happy self the whole way through, only grimacing when the ceremonial water was dabbed onto his head. Emerson was less than enthusiastic, however, and squirmed, insisted on sitting down on the floor, tried to crawl away, demanded a drink, etc. until I finally put him back into the pew to sit with his cousin. I wish I had a photo of the look on his face when the Director of Education got to his portion of the ceremony and addressed him directly - through a microphone. He froze in place and his eyes got so wide I swear if his hair wasn't already white it would've turned white then!
For those who are interested, I will copy the ceremony below. Thank you again to everyone who made it such a perfect day!
Introduction: In presenting your child in this service of religion that he may be named and recognized by this church family, you are thereby taking a step as parents in the assumption of moral responsibility. Let your child learn from your lips and your life how lovely is the path of virtue, how noble it is to become an apostle of truth, how holy it is to sacrifice oneself, if need be, for the good of others.
The great end of parental care, as William Ellery Channing observed, “is not to stamp your minds upon the young but to stir up their own; not to make them see with your eyes but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own; not to form an outward regularity but to touch inward springs; not to burden memory but to quicken the power of thought, so that they may learn and approve for themselves what is everlastingly right and good.” (Lon Ray Call)
Presentation of the Name:
Today we dedicate Kepler Fionn. Fionn is a Gaelic word meaning “white” or “bright.” It’s also the name of the famous warrior in Irish mythology, Fionn Macool, whose hair turned prematurely white as a child. Just as the mythological hero was brave in defending his homeland, Fionn’s parents wish him courage and strength as he faces the challenges ahead.
By recognizing Fionn’s name publicly, we declare that he is an individual – a unique and separate person with a dignity and life of his own. We will respect his individuality and in turn teach him to respect the interdependent web of life.
Presentation of Flower: Robbie and Cassi, you come with Fionn out of reverence for the mystery of life that you have seen in the birth of your child. In this dedication ceremony we give Fionn a flower. The flower symbolizes the beauty of Fionn’s young life. The flower also symbolizes the meaning of this dedication, for whether a flower is beautiful or not, whether it comes into full bloom or not, whether it fulfills itself or not depends on the nurture it receives. No flower grows alone, apart from the sun and rain and soil in which it grows. So too, no child grows alone.
Presentation of Water: In this dedication ceremony we bless you, Fionn, with water. Water symbolizes the meaning of your life to come. As water seeks the path of least resistance, may your life too, be filled with the easy way. May you rest in low, shaded valleys, and may you rush energetically through the many channels of life's experiences that await you. Like this water, may you be source of life giving energy to all whose lives you touch.
To The Parents: Robbie and Cassi, as parents of this child do you solemnly promise, that to the best of your abilities, you will instruct and train Fionn in the principles of right living?
Parents Respond: We do.
Do you promise that you will help Fionn to be a fearless, impartial, and reverent seeker after truth, beauty, and goodness?
Parents Respond: We do.
Will you affirm that Fionn is a sacred responsibility, as well as the embodiment of your love for one another? Will you dedicate yourselves anew to that way of life which will fill Fionn’s heart with memories of gladness and a sense of compassion for all others who travel life's wondrous journey?
Parents Answer: We will
To the Sibling: Emerson, as Fionn’s older brother, you will be the role model he looks up to. Although you are too young to understand now, your bond with your brother will be everlasting - continuing long after your parents are gone. May you always be united by respect, love and compassion for one another.
To The Guideparents: Jacob and Dung (pronounced YOUM), in consenting to become Guideparents to Fionn, you carry on an ancient custom. Will you continue to bear in mind your promise to befriend and guide and help Fionn as the need should arise?
Guideparents Respond: We will.
Charge to the Congregation: The minds and hearts of infants are as open to the wonders and worries of the universe as a vulnerable flower in bloom. As the essence of religion is to shape the person into someone whose heart and mind is aware of both but seeks wonder foremost, will you, as a congregation, commit yourselves to imbue in Fionn the values that shape our free, liberal, religious tradition? If so, say, "We will."
Congregation Responds: We will.
Charge to the Young People: As young people who have attended this church, you understand Unitarian Universalist religious values. Will you now pledge to Fionn that you will be an example for him, helping him to be a good Unitarian Universalist, and that you will do what you can to assure he receives the same love and friendship from this church as you do? If so, say, "We will."
Young People Respond: We will.
Closing: We close this service of dedication with thoughts of a future centered around Fionn and coming from a past that encompasses our own childhood. Let us aspire to keep from our past all that was good so that Fionn may grow from that starting place. And let us work at making the present an abundant source of excellence from which Fionn may develop a life rich and magnificent for all to behold.
In the words of Kenneth Patton:
Nothing is strange to the child for whom everything is new.
Where all things are new nothing is novel.
The child does not yet know what belongs and what does not;
therefore for him all things belong.
The ear of the child is open to all music.
His eyes are open to all arts.
His mind is open to all tongues.
His being is open to all manners.
In the child’s country there are no foreigners.
(From This World, My Home by Kenneth Patton)