I've had an odd secret desire: I've always wanted to be a godmother.
Not a mother. A godmother.
I have wanted to be a person designated to aid a child in their growth and understanding of God, even before I fully understood the importance of that knowledge for myself. I think this idea came to me because I had godparents who each gave me something like that. My godmother, Jennette, was a friend who, as I got older, gifted me each Christmas with a piece of a creche set...which now is complete with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and many animals. It is one of my favorite holiday decorations. My godfather, Tom, didn't have as much contact with me. But I will never forget those times where he came to visit, and would play with me until I was worn out. And then, when I was in that place to sit on the steps of the house and be quiet, he'd talk with me about the role of God in my life. He would ask me a question or two, and we'd share back and forth. For me, this always felt special, a time when an adult was engaging me and conversing with me, and meeting me at my place of knowing God at that time.
So, with those two role models, I have this weird longing to be a godmother. Unfortunately, everyone I know of child-bearing years who's had a kid is either not a Christian or could care less about baptism. Sigh.
But I did get the chance this past Sunday to play godmother!
As we stood up in Christ Church to recite the words of the Nicene Creed, the four-year-old in the pew in front of me kept her seat. Clearly, she didn't understand yet this particular maneuver in the "pew aerobics" of the Episcopal Church. We all began, on cue, to say the Creed. And as we did, I became aware of this child looking over at me. We made eye contact. She grinned, and I returned her smile, while continuing with the prayer. Then, a lightbulb went on in my head, and I began reading the creed to her as if it were a bedtime story. And, really, it is a bit like that...since it's the ritual telling of "our story" as Christians.
He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man....
The little girl stared at me, her smile growing bigger as I shared more of the story with her.
On the third day, he rose again. He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the father...
She looked at me holding the Book of Common Prayer, her eyes examining this "stranger" reading to her.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church....
She reached out for a prayer book. By the time we were finished, complete with the making of the sign of the cross, she was opening up the book. Sold on the idea that there must be something inside that book worth looking at because that was some story I had just relayed to her!
And it is some story. It is an amazing story for anyone who follows that path toward the light, forgiveness and redemption of God as embodied in Jesus Christ. And as I reflected on that moment, I realized that what I had done is the very thing we all pledge to do during the service of Holy Baptism. The promise we make to the candidates, often times babies, is that we, as a community of Christians, will do what we can to nurture and support the candidates in their growth as members of the body of Christ. I don't know how often folks stop to reflect on that directive. Certainly, as the Lambeth Conference approaches, I wonder how many bishops take the time each day to remember that baptismal covenant and how it must be applied in the life of all members of the church. I do not mean disrespect by that statement. But I sometimes wonder if those who are most concerned with keeping the LGBT community, women, and any of the "others" out of the leadership of the church have forgotten the basic commitment we all make to one another in the words of that baptismal service. Something to contemplate in the next three weeks!
In the meantime, I enjoyed my 15-minutes of godmother fame at Christ Church. I can only hope that my four-year-old will one day open that Book of Common Prayer and discover the common bonds that make her and me sisters in Christ and communicants in the Episcopal Church.