I was given the pleasure of attending a baptism on Sunday. The pastor encouraged us to think of other baptisms we had been to and the memories that evoked. Reflecting on our childrens’ baptism, it became interesting to me what came to mind first.
We baptized our three children and the memories I have of each hold a special place in my heart. They were baptized in three different churches in three different cities and the families members present were different each time.
Our oldest, Wiley was baptized at St. Michael’s in New York City. Both of my sisters and Noah’s brother and sister came to the city for the event. Wiley was the first niece and this was the first event. The memory that stands out the most for me involved a battle between Noah and his brother Michael. Wiley was wearing the baptismal gown that I had worn when I was baptized.
It was a silk gown of several layers and very slippery. Noah insisted on carrying her throughout the ceremony, he was the only one to hold her. Being the Godfather that he was, Michael tried hard to take a turn, but Noah was not having it. The gown made her slippery to hold and as the father he was going to hold her. Makes me chuckle, twenty years later to remember these brothers vying for the privilege of holding the baby.
Our son Eric was baptized at Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, NC. My brother and his wife came to town for the ceremony. The memory that stands out the strongest from his baptism happened at the end. After the anointment, the priest raised Eric up above his head and carried him down the aisle. The act was like that of Simba’s baptism in Lion King where Rafiki presents Simba to the herd. For those of you who have not met my baby boy, he is now 6’7”. Eric has definitely grown to be a very big boy and can now be seen above a crowd without being held up.
Our sweet Elise was baptised at St.Phillip’s in Durham, NC. Noah’s brother and his wife came for the ceremony. She was baptised at the Easter Vigil mass and all I can remember was that there were candles and Michael let Elise hold the candle herself. She was three (older than the others at baptism) wearing a white flower girl dress that had become her trademark gown and pink cowgirl boots. Her independence and desire to participate with the adults was shining through even then.
Reflection is such an amazing thing. It gives space for those memories, the smile and the sadness.
As I chuckle that Noah and Michael were having a brotherly competition at Wiley’s baptism, my heart hurts knowing that now that Michael has passed there will be no more brotherly competition between those two.
Remembering Eric being held up above the priests head brings a smile to face. My heart aches a bit knowing that my baby boy has grown up. It is time for him to tackle his own challenges.
As sweet Elise sat next to me in the pew on Sunday, I told her about the candles at her baptism. At three she had to hold it herself just as she likes to always hold the hymnal now. A few tears rolled down my cheeks as I realized that her godparents Michael and Ashley were now watching over her from heaven.
In the work that Noah and I are doing I am privileged to listen to clients’ reflections. To hear what the important memories are for them. Some make me laugh out loud and some are sad. All are beautiful.