Monday, January 30, 2012

My Life On the Altar

There are always rites of passage in life.  Be it a bar mitzvah, a quinceniera. ... your first fist fight. ... whatever.  We, as a species, feel the need to mark the passage of time by ceremonies and, of course, the parties that come afterwards.  The first big one in the Greek Orthodox community is the 40 day service for a newborn.  This is the first time the infant is brought in to the church and the priest takes them up on the altar and blesses them and everyone oooh's and ahhh's and then stands around the courtyard telling you how beautiful the baby is afterwards.  It's an important piece because, according to tradition, the baby can't be baptized with out this first step and if she can't get baptized then she can't be married and if she can't be married then she's going to end up an old cat lady who talks to herself. ... something like that.  Be it as it may, you know the real reason for the tradition is something to do with health and safety 100's of years ago; a church order to keep the baby inside and away from other people until a point when their immunity system was developed enough they could handle exposure to the elements.  Turns out if you want people to take care of themselves you just tell them it's God who wants them to do it and they'll suddenly pay attention.  Amazingly God has remained silent on deep fried chicken and the lack of cardio exercising up to this time. 
So the girls and I went earlier so they could take communion. ... of which Genevieve wanted seconds and Arianna wanted nothing to do with the guy in the robe holding the spoon. ...although she happily scarfed down the bread (Jesus body, good. ... blood - eh).  Then she spend the next 45 minutes whispering to me "Daddy, all done?"  And "me no eat mum-mums this time. ... next time, ok?"  Not to mention the sparkle from their dresses come of quite easily, so every time I'd look down the pew to check on Genevieve (they were going back and forth between me and my sister in law 5 bodies down) it looked like a disco ball had been reincarnated as a church pew.  Finally, Gina came in with the baby and the priest did his thing and carried her down the aisle with Gina following behind.  At this point both girls were done with us and wanted momma so they popped over the front of the pew and trotted of down the aisle after mom.  As Gina knelt there, in front of the priest, each girl climbed the steps and took a place kneeling next to Momma. ... sweetest thing I've ever seen.   They both remained in position through the whole thing, just watching their little sister and basking in the comfort of Momma's side.  It was really beautiful.  I remember, distinctly, 2 years ago when it was the girls up there.  And now, to watch them up there as big girls and have it be Rosaline. ... I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm getting a little misty eyed just typing this for you now.  It's not so much the ceremony. ... it's the marking of the passage of time.  It starts with 40 days.  Next is 6 months, then walking, then talking. ... before you know it she's going to be one more toddler to add to the pack.  God knows the years between kindergarten and college are going to fly by as well.  And that's the point of this blog.  In my old age, when the memory is fading, I can look back on this picture and read exactly what was going through my mind.  My 4 favorite people.  All in a group.  Up on a pedestal.

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