Saturday, June 18, 2011

Into the Tomb

I haven't completely processed the entire day yesterday, it was rather filled with everything, ALL day long! It was good, beginning with waking up and having a latte for breakfast, which Jay popped over to the corner coffee shop and grabbed while I tried to gather myself together. We had to remember a few items before leaving so as to be prepared for everything that followed the most important event of the day...better yet, of the month, or even year, in my opinion. Food, check. Get dressed after drink latte to prevent spillage onto my white top, check. Clean house, courtesy of God's grace, allowing me to properly execute managing of time to accomplish on THURSDAY, check! Water, check. Kat's clothes for afterward at the park, check. Hmm, I think that is it. Oh yeah, prayers to start the day off on the right foot, check!!!

We got to the church at about 10:25ish, with a few minutes to spare and we simply waited. We received a trickle of people who had come to share in this day of Holy Baptism. They began with the Mystery of Confession of sins. One by one, they went to stand before the Holy Cross and Gospel, with Fr. Boris as witness, to confess of their sins before God.

When they finished, we filed into the church, Jay and I at the rear of them, in the doorway of the church. We are the Godparents, Jay for the boys, myself for G. (I think I will abbreviate their names, in case they would rather I not use full names.) We went through the first prayers for the renunciation of evil and the acceptance of Christ before Fr. Boris vested himself to perform the Mystery of Baptism. When he came out in full vestments, he wore white, the color of purity and the Resurrection, a color reserved for feasts of Christ, weddings and baptism. Certainly significant, by no means coincidental, and it represents the soul after baptism, as well. So, he came to bless the waters of the font and then proceed to the most anticipated moment, yet also the quickest.

Mostly, things are now a bit of a blur, as they usually are, but I will share they things that stood out for me. I loved that there were entire families there to support and partake of this glorious day. As with a wedding, it is a day that only really comes once, at least, in the Orthodox Christian's life, that is the intent. So, it is so wonderful to be able to have this day with so many lovely friends and their families.

During the service, I got choked up a couple of times, but it wasn't where I thought I might. It is amazing to be at an Orthodox baptism for grown people and not just babies. It is always wonderful, but there is something particularly special about converts to the Faith. When J pulled back his already short hair, so Fr Boris could anoint his ears and forehead, it was one of the most endearing bits of the entire morning. He is such a fidgety kid, G didn't know if he would able to stand there for the entire time and whether he might bounce around too much (he is a very active 7.5 year old, much to be expected). Just the same, I think he surprised everyone when he quietly participated in the entire service eagerly, with only two little spins in place as he held his candle and cross.

Just when I didn't think that things would seem much different than they had been, they went in the tomb of Christ (the baptismal font) and emerged to put on their blessed garments and crosses. Into the tomb with the old person, out of the tomb clothed in the Grace of God. The expression on all of their faces were changed and all seemed quite childlike, though I don't know that they realized their appearance may have been that way. As Fr. Boris went from one to the next anointing with the oil of Holy Chrism, I noticed how he knelt to reach their feet. It reminded me of the stories of foot washing in the Bible and the humility implied therein. It also made me think about how Fr. Boris, a priest and father of his flock is kneeling before those coming to Christ, which does not happen when it is a baby, since they are held in the arms of the Godparents. I am sure I cannot impart to you the exact particulars here, but you kind of get what I mean.

In all of this, I was very glad to have G's husband involved in the process. Without him, I think she would have been more anxious, considering she was nervous enough with all of his help. By God's Grace, he was there, with a myriad of purpose. He has a good heart and loves his family and I am particularly grateful he could be with us.

In any case, after the seal of the Holy Spirit, the service seemed to fly by, but we were already close to the end. Though the end of a baptism is really a shift in purpose and intent with the whole rest of a Christian's life, not really ending, but a new beginning. Tomorrow, we will partake of the Mystery of Holy Communion. Three Holy Mysteries in three days can seem a bit overwhelming, but it is such a blessing. I am looking forward to it and may find time to write after that also.

I thought that I might be rather effected differently than I was. It was joyful, peaceful and solemn.They came as G, D and J and, by the end, were baptised into Christ and named Mary, David and John, taking on the name of one great-grandmother and two great-grandfather saints of our extensive Christian family. The day will forever be etched in my mind, as I am sure it will be for those who were able to come.

Congratulations to the newly illumined!!! May the God of all send peace, love, wisdom and understanding to us all!


Marfa said...

I saw the photos on Facebook...congratulations to you and the newly baptised! We ended up driving through Denver this week, then I saw signs for Aurora, and thought of you...I wish I'd planned and got your ph #...Wed night we stayed at a campground in Limon, CO. Blah. It was flat. We loved the western part of the state....and got to play in the snow, even!