Most of us have shelves full of complicated theology, intriguing poetry, intense narratives, and obsolete how-tos. The genuinely helpful, practical, AND simple books can often fit on one shelf. More often, these books sit on our desk or ride in our cars or sit by our beds. Into the small cadre of the useful, practical, and essential, I urge you to add Traci Smith‘s Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life.
This book describes 50 rituals or special practices for children of all ages. There is the remarkably simple- a bedtime blessing- to the more involved- sacred meal- to the most painful- family observance to mark a divorce or separation. With each ritual or occasion, Smith details what is needed, what one might (or should or should not) say, and the ages appropriate for the activity.
In the introduction, she speaks to how the book is written from a Christian perspective, yet one can easily imagine people of all (or no) faiths having a gratitude time, celebrating a sacred or special meal, or blessing someone who is going to college. The practical nature of this book is almost impossible to overstate. Smith takes real care to underline how important and securing ritual can be for children, and for people into adulthood. With regard to anxiety, Smith writes:
Adults often look at the life of a child and think, “Children don’t have a job, a marriage, or dependents to take care of. They have no responsibility. They play and have their needs met. Ah, the easy life.” We are even quick to remind children, “What until you are in the real world…” The truth is, though, children do live in the real world- their world. And a child is faced with any number of anxieties on a daily basis.
Smith goes on to describe a time of writing worries in chalk on pavement and then having fun hosing them away with water and a prayer. Simple, memorable, truth-supporting, completely possible for all kinds of families. That’s the gift of this book- it is adaptable and accessible for families of all types and sizes.
Smith herself often acknowledges the wide range of what is important. She encourages a family practice of a sacred meal, with a regularity that makes sense for your family. She notes that if no one likes to cook, even a frozen pizza can be made special with other touches (decorations, prayers, dishes) that indicate that this is a special meal. This book is all about what your family can do, so that they can grow into a deeper understanding of what God has made possible.
This is a GREAT book to give to families at the baptism of a child, to celebrate an adoption, to mark a blending of a family, as part of a packet to welcome a family into the church, or as part of a first communion gift. Not every ritual will fit for every family, but even the adoption of three or four of the practices in this book will greatly enrich a family’s spiritual life together.
Have you read this? Do you have any family rituals to share in the comments? Who would you gift a book like this?