Facebook Twitter

Baby blessings: bright, sweet as cake

SHARE Baby blessings: bright, sweet as cake

PEOPLE WHO STUDY The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — either as a way to live or simply as an item on the menu of American religion — are often struck by the sweet sincerity of the blessings that church members give to their children.LDS leaders encourage parents to lay their hands on their children — in blessing, not anger. And those blessings are almost always nourishing spiritual morsels.When my father blessed me, my mother sat in the congregation and jotted down what he said. When I was older, she gave me those notes. I still have them. It's why, whenever I can, I carry on the tradition. I try to write down what's said in a blessing and give it to the parents.The day my friend Miguel blessed and named his son Emmanuel, for instance, he began slowly, then simply stopped. A pregnant pause followed that seemed to last nine full months. Then like water from the rock of Moses, the blessings began to gush — health, kindness, happiness, obedience. When he'd start to wind down, he'd miraculously refill and keep pouring, like a magician's pitcher.That old Perry Como hit — "Magic Moments" — talks of special times like "the night of the hayride" and "the telephone call that tied up the line for hours." But those magic moments are mere parlor tricks compared to life's true magic moments — moments like Miguel's marvelous blessing.Along with that day, I also remember when one of my missionary companions blessed a sick baby in Bolivia. Later, when the mother took the child to the doctor, he accused her of bringing him a "changeling" — a healthy baby that she'd swapped for her own sickly child.I remember my stepdaughter being blessed by the local patriarch. His voice grew softer and younger as he went along until, by the end, his face and features looked as youthful as hers.And I remember the blessing of my granddaughter Camlin, the way my son took her from her grandfather with pure joy and lifted her like a scene from "The Lion King."Some people try to explain away the miracles such blessings produce. But what they can't deny — if they have a heart — is the amount of heart that goes into them. A baby blessing creates feelings of sweetness and light inside of everyone present as if they shared the same birthday cake.I know some people find the LDS Church a bit too legalistic, or too chilly or too complicated. Just as some feel just the opposite — that the religion is too sentimental and simplistic. But if, like one of Scrooge's ghosts, I could take those people around with me for a day and let them watch as fathers blessed their children when they are ill, when they leave home for college, when they are called to serve or simply when they are brought into the world, I think they'd see things differently. They might not change their opinion, but I know they could never look at Mormons the same again. Whatever sour taste they might have had would be forever cut by a spoonful of sugar.They would have to forever factor in the sweetness of baby blessings.And in this dry and bitter world, even a fleeting taste of sweetness can go a long way.