By admin


Categories: celebrant musings

You Are Loved

At Shadow Rock Preschool’s Thanksgiving Feast, where each class cooked for the whole school, we opened with a familiar ritual.  We first thanked each class in turn for their contribution and then everyone held hands within their class.  One of the teachers turned to a child beside her and started the ritual saying “Amy, you are loved.”

Amy turned to the next child and said, “John, you are loved.”

The message was passed round the table until everyone had been reminded individually by name that they are indeed prized, unique and unrepeatable, incredible gifts.

This ritual has worked well for me in other settings, especially in those with folks from various faith backgrounds.  Try it at your next communal meal.



By admin


Categories: celebrant musings


Surprises come in all sizes.  There are those monumental ones that shake our foundations, the in-between ones that cause us to pause a minute, and the tiny ones we hardly notice.

Really big surprises are usually heavily weighted with emotion.

  • Our youngest child is now 10 and I’m pregnant?  (surprise plus fear plus joy)
  • Your medical condition is not treatable.  (surprise plus fear plus grief)
  • Our car was totaled?  (surprise plus fear again)

The medium ones cause us to stop and re-evaluate, to ask questions, to try to solve the problem.

  • The stitches will leave a scar?  Is there anything I can do?
  • The water pump is out on the car?  How much will that cost?
  • You are certain you lost your assignment?  What will your teacher do?

The little ones can be a source of joy.  This happens often at Shadow Rock Preschool.

  • You remembered to ask for more paint.  I’m so pleased.
  • You really enjoyed the pretend safari more than the egghunt?  I’ll remember that for next time.
  • You like to eat the hummus?  You’d like it every day?  Wow!

Remember to appreciate the small surprises.  Don’t let them cause you to panic or short circuit the process of finding joy in seeing new dimensions in a child.

  • I knew you were really shy, and I never guessed you’d be able to tell him to “Stop!”
  • You found a new way to build a marble maze and you’re using a ping pong ball instead of a marble.  Cool!
  • I’ve wondered how much the children would like watching me make playdough.  Wow!  They loved it!  Remember this for next month.

Pay attention to the small surprises and treasure them in your heart.  Of such are the building blocks of joy created.




By admin


Categories: celebrant musings

Saying Good-bye

Good-byes are difficult for preschoolers.  They are afraid that their loved one will not return to pick them up.  They know that their very life and all that keeps them safe depends on the nurture and presence of the person who’s leaving.

It’s fun to watch rituals that surround saying good-bye at preschool:

  • Don’t have too much fun, Mom says teasingly.
  • Here’s a kiss to put in your pocket.  You can feel it any time you’re lonely.
  • Dad says See ya later, Alligator. Child replies After while, Crocodile.
  • Feel your belly button and know that we’re connected Mom says.
  • Parent gives one last hug and one last kiss and gently pushes child into class.
  • Dad and child race up the hilly sidewalk to see who’s the faster and Dad declares that they both won!
  • Grandma parks over the bridge in the furthest parking lot just so they can look for the mean ugly troll that lives underneath.  Whew!  We escaped again!

Saying good-bye to loved ones is important at any age.  We never know which will be our last chance.  Good-bye and I love you are never clichés, but rather the ritual glue that keep us connected.



By admin


Categories: celebrant musings

Attitude of Gratitude

In a newsletter to our preschool parents I wrote a suggestion for a Thanksgiving ritual.  It is to put a container on the dining table to hold little notes of gratitude.  Everyone writes one at each supper meal in November, shares it with the others, then puts it in the basket or bowl.

On Thanksgiving, these can be pulled out and read aloud.  Another idea is to make them into a small scrapbook or several pages for a larger Thanksgiving scrapbook that shows folks’ thinking through the years.

One of our teachers just wrote me that they’ve done this ritual for 5 or 6 years and here’s how they used the messages.

This ritual became especially meaningful when my father-in-law passed away. We dug out the grateful writings he’d done over the years when he ate a meal with us and read/displayed them at his service. Very touching.