March 16, 2014
Dear beautiful baby boy,
Isaac, my blue-eyed, happy little tender snip of a little man: I love you with all my heart. I never imagined you in my life, and now I can’t imagine our life without you. You have built a bridge of grace from the beautiful blue-eyed man I have chosen to spend my life with—a bridge to me and to the two precious girls who have been my heart long before you were all conceived—Cecilia and Eloisa.
Isaac, you’re just a little baby. You can’t even talk. And yet you have helped us all to understand ourselves anew, and in relation to one another. I know that a love beyond all knowing is at work in us when I look at smiling, soft little you–when I look at the five of us, together–because you have completed our recently reconfigured family in a way I never could have imagined years ago when I was dreaming up what my family might look like. You and your father came soon after the deepest sadness our family has experienced: a divorce and a new way of living. You came after a death of an old way of life. And you and your father are my proof that there is life on the other side of heartbreak, that Love conquers even death. You have helped us become whole and healed. I pray that this feels like a gift to you more than it feels like an obligation or a burden. Ultimately, I think we were all born to be a bridge and a healing in the world. That we were all called to live on the borders like you do. That’s God work. You will know what it is to be a border person in a different way than others do by virtue of your birth, and this, too, is a gift. And I’m sure it will sometimes feel hard, and burdensome. Your family isn’t easy all the time, but it is real.
Most important of all, I hope that you know that I love you the way God loves you: for all of who you are, and despite imperfection. Since I am not God, I will sometimes fail at loving you well. I hope that you know that your family will try hard to keep you safe in our imperfect love nonetheless. I hope that we also challenge you to take risks that help you grow.
Isaac, today you are being welcomed into a community of faith with your baptism, into the Church Universal. This isn’t always going to be easy, either. It will sometimes feel hard, because being a preacher’s kid isn’t easy all the time. And it will sometimes feel hard because the Church, just like the world, is full of people and people are not always easy all the time. But I believe this faith, this way of life, is worthy of your attention and intention, or I wouldn’t pass it on to you. I hope that you know that we are baptizing you today so that we might express our intentions to raise you well and in Love, with a lot of help from faithful people and from God who is Love. I pray that this feels more like a gift to you than an obligation or a burden, though I’m sure it will sometimes feel like both. The Church isn’t easy all the time but it is real. And I hope that the Church will love you in the way God loves you: for all of who you are and despite imperfection. Because the Church is not God, they will fail sometimes at loving you well. But I hope the Church feels like a safe place to nurture your spirit, and that it doesn’t feel so safe that it won’t challenge you to take risks that help you grow.
And I hope for you the following things:
I hope that you might know yourself beloved. It’s important to me that you know you don’t need this baptism to prove that you are God’s own beloved, because everyone’s in just by virtue of their birth, baby. I hope that you always remember that, too. Everyone’s in.
I hope that you will live your life as a gift—the gift that you already are–to this broken and beautiful world.
I hope that your inevitable heartbreak and despair will never overcome your sense of joy in living for long. The world is brutal and beautiful, and I hope its beauty continues to dazzle you as it does now.
I hope that you will understand yourself not as a consumer of goods, but as a part of the kingdom of God, no less and no more important than any other human being. There will be so many opportunities to numb yourself to feeling. I pray that you don’t get addicted to any of them, because you’ll miss out on so many opportunities to feel. Feeling is hard but it’s good. I promise.
I hope you know that in my eyes, you are perfect just as you are, and in who you are becoming. That I don’t care about your achievement in school, in sports, on standardized tests, in your ability to get into a good college or get a good high paying job. I just want you to be brave and kind. That’s the only kind of achievement that matters in the end.
I am getting baptized with you today, Isaac. And that is because your birth symbolized my rebirth, by the grace of Love.
With all of my love as long as I live,