What a beautiful day this was; a Saturday in early spring, when the crocuses and daffodils have peeked out from under their winter veils and the sunshine sits comfortably on the skin, cooled to the perfect temperature by air as fresh as a newborn baby. This day was about beginnings.
We stood at the side of a deep pool of water and bowed our heads as our firstborn dipped his firstborn into the waters of baptism. Sophie was radiant in her pretty white dress, her eyes all asparkle with the wonder of this first step into a grown up world. She was full of reverence and delight, a rare balance that is so refreshing to us old stuffy people. Tomorrow her dad will stand at the pulpit, where he is a member of the bishopric, and introduce her and her good friend Alivia as the newest members of their ward. I sense that she knows that, while she is the same girl she was last Sunday, she is also somehow changed. Tears flowed freely on this day; this kind of day when time converges into one whole and the past meets the future and we see all of it clearly through the lens of love.
“Hi Soph. You still up?”
“Yup”, she responded, “The little kids are in bed but I get to stay up and help get ready for my baptism party tomorrow.”
I smiled at the conversation, thinking how charming it was to hear an eight year old talk about the little kids as if they were another category of person.
I took her two little gifts: a new camera to record the people who love her on this special day, and a pair of earrings.
“These are special earrings, Sophie. They belonged to your Great Grandma Connors. Since you never got to meet her, I thought you should have these for your baptism tomorrow. She would have loved you, and you would have loved her.”
The earrings were small gold clusters with a tiny pearl in the middle, perfect with her pretty white dress. I had worn them to John and Ashley’s wedding years before, willing Helen to be there with us on that day as well. I thought of those earrings getting a new start on this day of Sophie’s new life. Sophie reminded me that my membership in our church is a great blessing.
After the baptism and gathering at John and Ashley’s house, my sisters and I drove over to our neighbor Victoria’s for another celebration. Two days ago Victoria stood with a couple hundred fellow immigrants and raised her arm to the square, taking an oath of citizenship as an American. She was so excited, she threw a party. We sat there in a little circle of folding chairs in her family room and reviewed her test for American citizenship. We all decided if we had not been born American citizens we sure wouldn’t be able to call ourselves Americans, because, except for Libby, we all failed the test. Victoria reminded us that what feels old and common to us is fabulously new to her and cause for celebration.
Then tonight we drove down to Salt Lake City for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for Steve and Pat Beus. Steve was bishop of Pittsburgh Second Ward when we were growing up, and when Dave and I returned from living in New York, he was our Stake President. He and Pat were pivotal in our lives. Perhaps another day I will dig into the deep crevices of my heart and tell more about that. But on this night we who love them came together to celebrate their union, begun half a century ago. They are preparing to leave soon for a new beginning. They will serve as missionaries in Japan for a year and a half. Steve and Pat reminded me that life is a series of new beginnings.
Tomorrow I will rise as usual. I will cleanse my skin and dress myself in reverent clothing. I will join my husband and sisters and friends and neighbors. We will sing praise, and bow our heads, and then, in the quiet of the chapel, we will each raise our hands, one by one, by our own choice, and allow ourselves to be born again through the holy sacrament of our Lord.
Renewed, by His grace, and blessedly refreshed.