baptism

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My heart did a little skip every time I thought about Joan being the star of the show on Sunday. Even though I can’t pay attention to her most of the time, even as she has to start crying before I notice that Lux is sitting on top of her feet, I still like for her to get fair praise. I’m awfully fickle with who I feel needs attention in my household—if too many strangers coo over the baby, I direct the conversation to Lux. If everyone is laughing over what Lux is saying, I start to chirp about funny baby things Joan has done lately.

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But it just seemed so right, for us to think about Joan for a bit, to light a candle and gather round and celebrate her existence and say out loud that we hoped she would know God and that we would raise her with that hope. At our Episcopal church, the Baptism part slides simply into a normal Sunday service. Between the homily (more of a meditation/story than a sermon) and communion. The four of us went up to the front, plus David, our dear friend-godfather of both of the girls. We talked through, out loud, a series of questions about what we hoped for Joan. Sammy, who was the presiding priest for the day, is our good friend. I’ve probably shared as many drinks with him as I have heard sermons from him, which is a nice thing to feel when you’re handing over your daughter for some legit blessings.

Maybe it’s the bourbon, but I get weepy thinking about this now.  “And will all you who witness this,” Sammy’s voice rang out across the pews, “do all in your power to support this child in her life in Christ?” “We will,” answered everyone, strangers some, old friends others. It was beautiful.

Not to say this is what she will choose for herself in the future, not to say that she won’t have moments of thriving and withering, but to say now, in this moment, we acknowledge our part in what she is raised to believe. “…give her a spirit to know and love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.”

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Then the entire congregation trouped to the back corner of the church, to gather around the stone font with its hammered copper bowl. This is my favorite part because from my corner you feel surrounded by a small sea of faces watching and smiling. Sammy dramatically poured water into the bowl, intentionally splashing some over the edge onto the giggling kids below. Joan got sprinkled and anointed with oil that smelled like balsam and fresh cut trees. Salt, for wisdom, was pressed onto her tongue. The kids gathered close and watched every move, laughing when she yawned and hoping she might let out a shocked cry at the salt (obviously she didn’t because she’s born to love salt just like Lux and me. Heritage).

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We brought a case of Sofia blanc de blanc, the California sparkling wine that comes wrapped in pink cellophane, to celebrate with everyone afterwards, the early hour notwithstanding. It’s a fruity sparking wine, perfect for the morning. I made 70 golden gougeres (ina’s recipe, easy, reliable, five stars on the crowd-pleasing) and piled them into a big bowl next to the chilled bottles. They go best with champagne if they are hot and crunchy out of the oven, but they still taste sharply of gruyere and softly eggy, even when they are one day old.

<thanks to Kelsey and Julianne for the photos>

11 thoughts on “baptism

  1. I’m a new reader of yours, and this is absolutely beautiful! Joan is so lucky to have this account of her baptism. Our son’s baptism is in a week and a day … fingers crossed that he doesn’t cry all the way through it like his brother did 😉

  2. What a beautiful celebration for Joan. I grew up Catholic, and completely agree that there’s something so powerful about everyone in the church – friends and strangers alike – saying the same thing aloud at the same time.

    And 70 gougeres?!? Super impressive.

  3. What a lovely celebration! And I completely relate to not being able to give enough attention to the baby! My almost three year old is a much more commanding presence, luckily the baby seems to be a tough little guy & is holding his own. I really relish any alone time I get with either one of them though!

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