Last Saturday, the 31st of May, Rebe's school class had their first holy communion.
Rebe and Benny attend a catholic primary school (as do most children in Ireland) so the first holy communion is a large feature of the school year for Rebe's age group.
We are not religious so I gave Rebe the option of what she wanted to do, she could either join in the preparations and celebration at school, or she could opt out and we could do something different.
She decided to participate with the class to an extent; learning the songs and tin whistle tunes and doing arts and crafts related to the communion, but she also asked if she could do something different to the communion on the day.
|the necklace that Garry and I gave her|
This is when I came up with the idea of an Apple Seed Ceremony. I was inspired by a book I read a few years ago called The Buddha, Geoff and Me. In it there was a passage about an acorn and how an acorn already has everything in it it needs to become an oak tree.
I love this idea: that children are already whole. They already have everything they need within them to be the grown up they are destined to be. I wanted to celebrate and teach that to the kids, that there is nothing lacking in them and that they are already whole, complete and beautiful beings. I decided to use an apple seed as our symbol rather than an acorn as I felt it was more accessible to the kids (plus I could make apple cake!).
We started our preparations a few weeks ago. Garry and I went out to a lovely local nursery and bought Rebe a little apple tree that we hid in our neighbours garden until the day. I asked Rebe to invite a handful of people that she felt were important to her in terms of support and guidance. We wanted to keep it easy and simple so the numbers invited were very small, but I did want Rebe to know how much love and support there is for her all over the world so I asked our friends and family, far and wide, to email me a little wish for Rebe that would be written on the back of some paper apples that we would hang from the tree on the day of the ceremony.
My mum flew over the day before and we sat together in the evening stringing green cotton onto the apple wishes (and drinking wine). She had brought with her a special dress (yes I know a dress! Rebe actually wanted to wear a dress!!!) that Rebe had asked her to make for her to wear on the day.
The following morning we placed the tree in the middle of the back garden under a brilliant blue sky. We tied balloons to the top and strung a line of cotton to each side of the garden from which to hang the apple wishes.
|a little orchard cake|
|Kerry apple cake|
Garry arranged a semi circle of chairs around the apple tree and at midday the ceremony began.
We have gathered here together today to acknowledge and celebrate you as a person.
We have watched you grow from a baby to a toddler, from a toddler to a little girl and from a little girl to the person you are today.
And we will watch you grow into a young woman, through school and jobs and adventures and life.
We may get to watch you fall in love and become a mother yourself, a grandmother even.
But through all of that growth, through all of those changes you will always be you. That pure and beautiful being that is you.
Everything that you need to know about life, how to find and follow your path is already within you. The same way that an apple seed has everything within it that it needs to become an apple tree and bare fruit of it's own.
But for an apple to seed to grow into a tree it needs rich soil, air, rain and sunshine. And this is what we must be for you. We, your family, friends and community are your soil, air, rain and sunshine.
We must give you a place to call home. Somewhere to put down your roots. We must give you all of the strength and stability that we can.
We must give you space to grow, to stretch your branches and unfurl your leaves. We must give you the space to become the unique and beautiful self that you are and are destined to be.
We must water you with nourishment, feed you with our knowledge and guidance.
And like the sun we will shine our love on you, every single day of your life.
These are the conditions that we promise to give you and we are so excited and honored to watch you, my darling Rebe, grow and stretch and blossom and bare fruit.
|commissioned for Rebe by Bubs and Man|
'So next time you are seeking shade and find it under a tree just remember, it took one brave seed to start to grow when all the other seeds said it was impossible and couldn't be done... one seed that's all!'
Then we had the feast...
|Garry, Rebe, Joa and I|
It was a very happy day.