Ritual Inclusion

My body has born four children. And I have watched as the men I love have taken each of these little bodies in their arms–bodies that I have grown, birthed and bled for–and conferred upon them a name and a blessing. I deeply love this Mormon ritual. I love watching as my husband, fathers and brothers encircle and cradle my babies in their love.

This time, however, I wanted more than to just passively watch from the side. Perhaps because this is my last child, I found myself grieving my exclusion from the ritual where I never had previously. A dear friend in charge of our ward’s music graciously allowed me to choose the hymns and because it was Fast and Testimony meeting I was able to bear my testimony and give my baby a mother’s blessing of sorts.

It was mr. mraynes who came up with the idea of holding the microphone. I was resistant–balking at the symbolism of being the instrument to give voice to my husband while being silenced myself. But I have sisters who have asked for this small thing and been denied. In the end I could not let the opportunity pass. An opportunity I knew I had only because my husband is in a position to ensure I had it.

So yesterday I found myself in a circle of men. A space reserved for masculine authority.

For the first time I was witness to the incredible beauty and power that resides within the blessing circle. As I held the microphone to my husbands lips, I could see the overwhelming emotion and love he has for our son. For the first time I saw my son watch his father intently and smile because of the security and happiness he undoubtedly felt. And I was able to feel the love these men had for each other and this sweet little baby. I could feel their hope in the possibility of his life and their desire to give him every gift they could.

This is a powerful ritual and in arguing that women’s participation is unimportant we sell ourselves short.  Baby blessings are the literal expression of our joy in the creation of life. When we try to make this blessing, and any blessing, less than what they can be we loose half of the creative possibility and power that God intends us to have.


Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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9 Responses

  1. Michelle says:

    And my dear man standing next to you in that circle shed many tears of joy, throughout the entire day, as he felt and re-felt the beauty and reverence of that moment. How blessed to be connected to you. Oh, how I love you. I am crazy-thankful.

  2. April says:

    We tell our sons how important it is to participate in these rituals, what wonderful opportunities they are, so transformative. Then we turn to our daughters and tell them that their exclusion is really no big deal. Both statements cannot be true.

  3. Caroline says:

    mraynes, I’m thrilled you took the opportunity to hold that microphone. It’s a step forward because it’s showing that these practices can be flexible. The way things have always been done does not mean that it has to always be done that way. Your inclusion put an exclamation point on that. Hopefully, in time, people will see women up there holding the microphone and make the leap to understand that fully including the mother in the blessing circle is the appropriate and godly thing to do.

  4. Ziff says:

    I love this, mraynes! Great story, and excellent point made. I’m glad you got to participate at some level. Good for mr. mraynes for using his institutional power for good! 🙂

  5. Melody says:

    Your son, your infant son, has an image of his mother’s face in that circle. This is profound. And all your ward members and your other children have a new vision of an old ritual. I love this post. I love what you and your husband did. I’ve said it before: The world can change in an instant. Thanks for being the change.

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