Today you were baptised. Your Daddy and I were both baptised as part of our parents’ beliefs in the Catholic Church. The idea behind the ritual of baptism is to cleanse a child from ‘original sin’ and to welcome them into the community in the eyes of god. Because of my own experiences with spirituality and my own new belief system, I really could not accept that you or any baby, was born smited with sin. I see you as the most perfect example of innocence and purity. Your Dad and I had a long discussion about getting you baptised and as I had an issue with that aspect of the ceremony, I decided I needed to speak to the man in charge. Not god, but the priest.
Aged in his 80’s and with a baptism or two under his belt, he was pleasantly surprised that I wanted to sit with him and talk seriously about the service. He was understanding and open minded to my concerns and encouraged me to play an active part. Together we worked on making the literature match my thoughts about how I would like you to be represented on the day.
We chose a reading from Mark which told the story of children being turned away from Jesus. He chastised the disciples and said “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”. A child’s trust, a child’s forgiveness, a child’s authenticity of feeling is the unhindered expression of their true nature. Your true nature is your godliness. Your truthfulness when you are excited or angry or tired or in need of a comforting cuddle, is your godliness.
I chose a second reading because I loved the imagery of a piece of scripture from John which states “I am the vine and you are the branches”. When you are aware of your connectedness to all things, you will thrive. You will bear fruit, which is the symbolism for your creations, your manifestations. When you can acknowledge the incredible energies that are flowing through you, you will understand you are the powerful architect of your own life.
You see, I know that god is life. Life is a miracle. A miracle is god in motion. I know that you are still strongly connected to that miracle, to god. You are life. You experience it intensely through nature. You mimic the chortle of the magpies as though you understand what they are saying. You stare up into the trees as though you are deeply respectful of their majesty. You adore being able to crawl around on the ground and touch the grass and the dirt as though you are greeting an old friend. You are joy filled and happiest when you are immersed in the natural world.
There is no organised religion that can connect you to the divine, because you are experiencing it already. There is no ritual that can release you from a conceptual stain that was never yours to begin with. You are god experiencing god through human existence. You have come here to create a personal narrative with the label “Seamus”. There is a banquet of choices available to you!
Seamus, I grew up a catholic and I did not know god. My remembrance of the divine was through the illness of cancer. Does that make me want to call cancer a religion? Not really. Cancer was simply the pathway, an alternative one to the road I had been travelling. I had wandered so far away from knowing my sacred self. I was so filled with misery, discontentment and desperation that I needed a mind blowing jolt to let me know that what I was searching for was there all along. Inside me and ever present.
The ceremony was lovely but the real joy was at home afterwards, in the backyard surrounded by family and friends. We shared food and enjoyed the sunshine and each others company as we sat at tables with bouquets of fresh flowers from Nanny’s garden. There was no ritual there, there was only love.
So on your day of baptism, you have merely been acknowledged as a new member of a spiritual community. Whatever religion you may or may not choose as you grow older is up to you but I want you to know that you already know god. You just haven’t had the chance to forget and my wish for you, is that you never will.
“The child who decided that the world is a beautiful place has discovered the pathway to the sacred” – Helen Barnes RSJ