Water and the Spirit

It’s official: our Luke is now part of the Church. He was baptized on All Saints’ Day, which is just about the coolest day to be baptized, period. Of course, I say that as woman who has come to regard the communion of saints as one of the best parts of being Catholic. It took me a while — about thirty years — to get to that point. I used to view the saints as so horribly boring and unreal in their goodness. That was before I realized that there were real-life struggles underneath those haloes. Now, I adore the saints. They’re my advocates. They’re my posse.

Of course, Mary is right up there on my list of favorites, so it was fitting that the baptism took place in the Lady Chapel of our church. A white statue of her stands above the altar, and she’s also the focal point of the woodcarving above. It’s a lovely spot. I’ve prayed there often.

It was a rainy, nasty day, but that made the contrast between the outside and the inside all the more dramatic. The stained glass windows were opaque from the grayness outside, but the candles were beautiful. They were white spots of light glowing against the stone. Luke wore the thin linen gown my dad was baptized in sixty-eight years ago, the one that Matthew wore two years ago. I loved it, that tangible link to the past. We sang the Litany of Saints; I’d made sure that my favorites were included in the list.

And as the water poured down outside, the waters of baptism flowed over my little boy’s dark head, and he smiled up at my husband, and I thought: this is what it’s all about. It’s about history, and belonging to something bigger than ourselves. It’s about family and friends who braved slick highways and lake-sized puddles to celebrate with us. It’s about faith and hope. Most of all — of course — it’s about love.

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