Yesterday, Sunday, May 29, Gracelyn was baptized at Jubilee! in Asheville. It was a true celebration of our beloved girl and her honored place in our faith community.
From Shonnie to Gracelyn in our baby’s journal
Beloved child, today was your baptism at Jubilee! Community, our “church.” While people usually think of a baptism as a religious ceremony, for us, this ritual and the way it’s done by Howard Hanger, Jubilee’s Minister of Ritual, is about something more profound. Of course it was about welcoming you officially into this community and celebrating your presence in all our lives. What we most appreciate, however, is its role as a call to us as your parents (and the community as a whole) to be with you in a way that helps you to be who you were made to be and also to know—beyond any doubt—that you bring god/life/the universe great joy simply by being you.
Howard’s charge to us as Gracelyn’s parents and to the entire community
During the last part of the baptism ceremony, which was led by Howard and our friend Ken Kinnett, Howard asked us, Gracelyn’s parents, to answer a very important question: “Will you in every way—by what you say and what you do—permit this lovely child to grow into who she’s meant to be, not who her parents, this community, our culture or her education think she should be? If you will, say ‘We will.’” And we both answered, of course, “We will.” Gracelyn squealed in affirmation of our vow.
A song from Billy and Adrian
After the baptism, our friends Billy Jonas and Adrian Deal sang Billy’s song “To Be One” as we carried Gracelyn through the happy Jubilants (folks who go to Jubilee!). The love and joy expressed toward us throughout the baptism was palpable, and as we walked through the congregation, folks acknowledged us with enthusiasm and compassion, more than a few with tears in their eyes.
Click on the “play” icon next to song #4, “To Be One” to listen to the song.
Below are some of the lyrics from “To Be One”
If you want to be one with the water
Dance with the river, sing to the sea
And if you want to be one with the air
Rage with the thunder and whisper to me
Shonnie to Gracelyn in her journal:
There’s so much more I could write to you to give you a more complete picture of the day. What I didn’t say directly yet, however, is how tangible was the love that surrounds us all and suffuses our lives. After Howard and Ken baptized you with the water, Howard asked the congregation to stand and recite a blessing for you. I “felt” everyone stand with a purpose and quickness that, to me, symbolized their eagerness to bless you and their love and commitment to you (and us) as our faith community. You—and we—are profoundly, deeply and eternally blessed.
Thank you to everyone who created and participated in Gracelyn’s baptism. And thanks to each of you who were with us in spirit on this special day! We are deeply grateful for your presence in our lives and for your ongoing love and support of our little girl.
Shonnie, Bruce, and Gracelyn
P.S. On this day 12 years ago, Howard Hanger and Ken Kinnett officiated at our wedding at Bend of Ivy Lodge. Today we intend to visit a tree that we planted at the lodge as part of the ceremony.
P.P.S. Photos are by Paul Howey. Thank you, Paul!