Silk baptism gowns.
Dear, dear friends.
The scent of sweet baby mingled with fresh cut lilies, roses, and incense.
These are just a few words and thoughts that come to mind when I try to recap Jack's baptism day.
It was a beautiful day. Our son was welcomed into the Church - baptized in the water - annointed with oil by the bishop, and sealed with Christ's love. Forever.
We were surrounded with love from friends, family, and our entire congregation.
The sermon prior to the baptism by Canon Riegel touched my heart.
"These children belong to God’s family not because they believe and confess just the right thing, not because they have earned some place in the world. Who knows what they may be in the future.
Do you remember the old jump rope ditty? “Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.” Who knows our children what will be? In part that will be determined by how we hold them, love them, let them go.
In part their life with God will be effected by godparents and about how the church welcomes and guides them. For sure they will all be very different. They will go to different schools, follow different political parties, develop different values; they will have all sorts of jobs and professions, yes.
But in Baptism they are made one family, God’s family, in which different people can find unity with each other. We proclaim a Christian faith that is not about uniformity, but rather about the unity we experience through one Lord, through one faith, and through one baptism....."
Hold them. Love them. Let them go. I know that is my job as a mother, to love my son, to hold him tight, and if I've done my job well, to let him go. Thankfully I'll have a while to get used to the idea, at least 20 or so years if God takes pity on me.
Jack, who had fallen asleep in my arms prior to the baptism itself was none too happy to awake in the arms of our priest, splashing huge handfulls of clear cool water on his head - as he was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
He grumbled a bit as he was startled awake, but settled into the priest's arms as he was annointed by the bishop. He wooed the congregation as the priest carried him around to show him off - John Edwin - the newest member of Trinity Cathedral. He smiled his wide, gummy grin.
We had our other children stand alongside us for the baptism. Anna marveled at the ceremony - taking it all in with big eyes, trying to understand what was happening - and I suspect understanding more than many in her wise soul. She was a little bit worried too, worried that the water might be too hot on Jack's sweet head - because babies can't be around hot water, you know.
James, well James was just interested in the fact that his little brother was getting wet - and said so - loudly - as he pointed and said 'his head is wet mommy!'
We all smiled.
My heart swelled.
Tears came to my eyes.
I am a mother.
I am a mother of three beautiful children.
God has blessed me in ways I can't begin to articulate - words fail me.
We followed the baptism ceremony with brunch at our home - that was flawless thanks to the help of some very dear friends - who helped prepare, clean, child wrangle, arrange, organize, put food out, ice down drinks, and most importantly, help me keep my sanity.
We ate, we drank, we laughed, we listened to the children run and play and squeal. We smelled sweet flowers, we held baby Jack (until he fussed and wiggled and wanted to just go to sleep and stretch out), and we enjoyed each other's company.
It was indeed a beautiful day.
It was also bittersweet. I missed my parents. I missed my dad, who would have been right there in the kitchen - serving up food - or at my makeshift bar - mixing up Bloody Mary's and mimosas. He would have been bursting at the seams with pride - showing off his grandson.
I missed my mom, who would have been so proud - and probably wouldn't have let anyone else hold her grandson. She would have been by my side, telling stories of my baptism, stories I barely remember from when she told them to me years ago. She would have looked over at me, and smiled, and a thousand words would have passed between us. Words of pride. Of love. Of just knowing what it is like to be a mother.
It's an odd feeling - one I don't think I'll ever get used to, not that I'd want to - that feeling of utter pride and joy and happiness as a parent, coupled with that feeling of loss and sadness of celebrating another milestone in the absence of my family.
I miss you daddy. I love you.
I miss you mommy. I love you.
I know both of you would have been as proud as can be.