“Thank you for the blessing it really helped me focus” said a 6th grade football player after a game. At Campbell Hall, our student’s spiritual life is shaped by chapel worship, but perhaps equally important they are nurtured by blessings that they receive in the ordinary flow of their school day. Whether it be a blessing at the Science Fair, at a sporting event, as they depart for a field trip, when a baby is born in the community, when the maintenance crew is honored or a theatre cast is blessed, they are learning that God’s blessings touch them in the ordinary events of their lives.
I spend a lot of my time at sporting events, and it is interesting to watch the eagerness of the students to receive a blessing minutes before competition. Blessings transcend winning and losing and helps students center themselves on the privilege of being able to compete. They reinforce the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, and improvement. As eager as they are to play the game and as nervous as they are about facing the opposing team, taking time for a blessing reminds them that there is always time for God in their hurried lives. When a blessing is offered with music blaring in the background, anxious parents chatting in the bleachers, and opposing teams curious about our quiet circle, we are saying not only to the players but to all who are in the gym that there is something greater than all of us that is taking place today.
After years of offering blessings in a school setting, I believe that they have a way of making children aware of the sacredness of life in a way that is natural. The chapel program provides ritual and order, while regular blessings can often feel more natural and connected to the task at hand. When blessings become a part of their everyday lives, they are more likely to be filled with gratitude. For example: when the maintenance crew goes out of its way to set up an event and they are blessed in chapel, the children learn quickly that everyone in the school community is a child of God. A community that routinely offers blessings becomes a community where children begin to see the sacred in all sorts of new places. Children learn that blessings are not reserved just for special occasions such as Confirmations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and Baptisms. Rather, they are interwoven into the regularity of their lives. My hope is that when the students are adults and they face the challenges that life offers, they will always experience God’s blessings.
The Rev. Canon Norman S. Hull is Lower and Middle School Chaplain at Campbell Hall (Episcopal), North Hollywood, California.