Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lilah Grace's Baptism

When Lilah Grace was a tiny infant, I wondered if we were going to have her baptized. I was baptized in an Episcopalian church ((my mother is 100% Italian, and was 100% Catholic...until she met my southern born-and-raised, Methodist father...Episcopalian was apparently the halfway point between denominations)). George told me he was baptized by his aunt at home in the sink. I was raised in the Methodist church ((I was even an ACOLYTE and went through the CONFIRMATION process!)), and George told me he went to various denominations growing up to get a taste for it all. Since getting married, we haven't become members at a church, and spend most of our spiritual time together outside, or listening to podcasts of progressive ministers delivering sermons that resonate with me.

But I felt a longing, almost a calling, to have our sweet baby baptized!

A while back ((WAY before I knew our little hummingbird was coming to us!)), I read a book about the evolution of religion. I found myself around "Stage 4...Independence...with a 'Distant God'"

Usually around the age of sixteen and through early adulthood, people tend to feel God as more of a distant being. The author states this is a common time for the individual to express, "I'm spiritual, but I'm not religious." Some people, such as Thomas Jefferson and Voltaire, become deists in this phase. They feel that God is like a clock-maker, but their life and this world is a clock. The person in this phase can relate to God being "energy," and "the force," but not a being typical of intervening in human's lives, or capable of performing miracles. 
"Is your spiritual life unique and personal? Do you think of God primarily as an impersonal force or spirit (or as nonexistent)?"
*Many adults, according to Rev. Scotty McLennan, do not reach this stage. Typically, if it is reached, it is in the thirties or forties. *

Stage 5 seems to fit a little better now:

Old traditions now hold new power. The individual at one time took Communion believing it was the Body of Christ. They since have either not been to church in some time, or when they take it, only do so for the sake of society; it no longer held symbolic meaning. At this stage, the individual can realize the paradox of God. They can read scriptures at the "literal, allegorical, historical, conceptual, poetic, and inspirational levels." These people are open to dialogue between different religions and traditions. 

"Do you find a spiritual community important to you at the same time that you maintain your own distinctive faith? Do you experience spiritual power in symbols and myths that you can also analyze objectively? Do you conceive God as both person and as an impersonal force?"

The final stage is my goal...all in good time...

"All-Pervasive God"
This stage is also known as "enlightenment." Most adults to not experience this stage. If they do, they typically do briefly, and slide back to stage five.
"Do you sense yourself in community with religiously committed people of any and all traditions? Is your consciousness ego-free and beyond paradox and ambiguity? Do you often feel that God or divine spirit is in everything and that everything exists in God or divine spirit?"

I digress....

I wanted to have Lilah Grace baptized for a few reasons, and none of them were the salvation of her soul. 
  • I wanted to have all of her great-grandparents and grandparents surrounding her, affirming her, and praying for her, simultaneously. We don't know how long we have on this planet, and I consider ourselves and Lilah incredibly blessed to have 6 living great-grandparents. I found the energy in the chapel to be very powerful, filled with positivity, love, and wisdom from our lineage. I was so appreciative of my mother-in-law's prayer before lunch, acknowledging all of Lilah's family, living and non-living, so the spirit of my mother's parents were also recognized. I didn't even ask her to say that; it just naturally came to her. 
George's Paternal Grandmother + LG

George's Maternal Grand-Dad + LG

Grandma/Grandpa T, GrandDad/Grandmama George, Mimi and GrandDad (Van Meter)

I have so much respect for my GrandDad! What a class act!

  • I wanted to participate in the tradition of baptism. I wanted her to wear the gown I wore, which was the gown my mother wore. She was baptized in a private chapel by the minister who married us. My father was baptized in the same chapel. I have an immense amount of respect for Rev. Bill Longsworth. He is the most spiritual, loving, accepting minister I have ever met.
"Binky" (my mom) lovin' on LG! In the dress!!

My sweet family. My tribe! My greatest accomplishment.

  • I wanted to participate in our culture. Christian, American, culture. I believe religion is a cultural expression of spirituality. George's grandfather is Osage Native American, and he performed an Eagle Feather blessing while the three of us were under a baby blanket, gifted to Lilah from the Tinker tribe! I loved the blending of cultures and practices in the private ceremony. It was all I hoped for and more.

I believe that the miracle of life is both a gift FROM God and a path TO God. I was clear in communicating to Rev. Longsworth that a private ceremony would probably be best, and the service should be adjusted to promises I can keep. He, of course, was the best, and every word we said, we meant. We promised to love, nurture, and support Lilah Grace, consciously creating an environment that she can spiritually thrive in. We promised to guide her toward Spirit, and let her make decisions on her own. Rev. Longsworth sprinkled water on her head, adorned by a beautiful floral crown, made custom for her by my friend, Raquel

I was pleased as punch when my Mimi and GrandDad offered to take everybody to have a delicious lunch at the Reata following the baptism. She worked out a menu ahead of time and reserved a room for us. It was the perfect private lunch to follow a private ceremony. I was so happy to have all of Lilah's family gathered together, breaking bread together. I'm forever grateful for my grandparents' generosity and thoughtfulness!

I purchased a cake from the Jenny Layne Bakery and topped it with flowers used during the service, custom-made by Raquel.  

All of these photos were taken by the amazing Yana, my brother-in-law's girlfriend. I am so grateful to all 3 of you ladies for making the day extra special! Especially Yana, for capturing the moment, so I can look over these years from now, and reminisce. I have found photography SO MUCH MORE important now than ever! So often I find myself literally wanting to pause life, and just relish in the now. The up-side is I'm more present and peaceful than I've ever been. The down-side is life doesn't stop--it keeps going, and so until I learn how to freeze time, I'll continue to take pictures and ask the talented people in my life to take pictures, and I'll continue to look back on this blog and other mediums, remembering this precious time. 

I have a tendency to over-think, and over-analyze. Water has long been considered by many as the source of life. Water is in and around all of us, and is also a symbol of the human spirit-always in motion, never ceasing, only taking new forms. Every element needs water to grow and thrive, to even survive. From the trees, to flowers, to fish and birds...water nourishes all of us, cleanses us, comforts us, and renews us. I know Lilah Grace came to us a pure, innocent, and perfect soul. She didn't need to be cleansed from sin. But I wanted her to be celebrated, affirmed, and blessed by her tribe, her family. My wish for her is that the love that surrounded her that day will wash over her like rain every day of her life. I pray she feels a connection to Spirit, and recognizes it as the golden thread that connects all lifeforms. 

I continue to pray every night ((before the pregnancy, my prayers were sporadic)). When I nurse and rock my sweet baby, I continue to affirm four words:

And then I say "thank you." I probably thank God, in my head or aloud, about 10 times every day. And that's nowhere near enough. I feel incredibly blessed. 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Wiggly Days


"Cleo" by Built to Spill

Wiggly days wiggly nights
When it's dark bring in lights so you can see
What a sound straight through my spine
Bounced off me
Makes me round
3-D sound
Push it down move it around, see I'm fine
Ain't it strange that I can dream
(You can say it's night or day
Snow or rain it's all the same)
When there's nothing I have ever seen
(In here, In here)
Ain't it strange that I can dream
(You can say it's night or day
Snow or rain it's all the same)
Ain't it strange that I have brain activity
(In here, In here)

Who brought those cameras in
Who gave who the right
Inside a sea turned from frog to freak
(Linnart Nilson shut off those lights)
To tiny, red, and meek
Strange that I'm a human being
Ain't it strange that I can dream
(You can say it's night or day
Snow or rain it's all the same)
Aint' it strange that I'm a human being
(In here, In here)
Ain't it strange that I can dream
(You can say it's night or day
Snow or rain it's all the same)
Living in the womb
Running out of room
Have to come out soon
Have to meet the sun and moon and

My husband and I had a really fun time creating this video for Lilah. Looking forward to showing her when she's old enough to realize this is her journey!