Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4: Baptism

This morning my husband and I drove to Scarborough to attend the baptism of our niece and nephew; Paul had been asked to be the godfather of his sister's son. As a non-Catholic with no sense of the sequence of events at a mass, let alone knowledge of the responses, I spent most of the service keeping an eye on our active niece (though I did take a long moment to say a non-denominational prayer for my best friend's father, who's critically ill). Undaunted by the silence of dozens of people in the pews around her, she grabbed a hymnal and began "reading" from it aloud. Then she tossed the hymnal aside and began perusing "Spot Bakes a Cake" and a Sesame Street ABC book with the same intensity. For some reason this struck me as a wonderful juxtaposition--images of Grover and Big Bird alongside the reading of the day's homily and the singing of "America the Beautiful." And all being taken in by an angelic-looking two-year-old with wild curly dark hair wearing a long white fancy baptism dress. The only point in the service in which she got at all upset was when she was dunked into the baptismal font, but even that passed quickly.

After lunch and family time, my husband and I decided to stop at Scarborough Marsh for a little birding. The tide was high and the humid air clung to our skin. Throughout the marsh, willets--large sandpipers that breed there--flew back and forth, white wing patches flashing, crying, "Pe-will-willet, pe-will-willet!" Their noise seemed rather alarmist, as the marsh was otherwise placid: slack tide brimming at the edges, still air humming with insects, little other bird activity. I'm not sure how this connects at all to the morning's baptism, except that both experiences involved water, and I did briefly give thought to what it must feel like for a young willet to step into the water for the first time, committing itself to a life of marsh mud, tidal waters, and salt-fragrant air. I bet it cries out in alarm too, before acceptance.

Life-giving water
baptizes both bird and child--
high tide, blessed font.

No comments:

Post a Comment