One of God’s sheep, more so the little lamb’s parents, were prepared to have her reborn through Christ. This would inspire them to invite me to my second baptism. The first one I went to was back in 2008 and there was a road trip involved. This event would only need eleven miles, one way, to be traversed to attend. I agreed to go for many reasons. Dan invited me and he’s a great friend, Bibi invited me to the church and the reception, and I’m not one to turn down an experience – one with photo opportunities and food.
Bibi’s daughter, Lexi, is the one getting baptized. She will be three this year and can still be a bit moody. I thought this would be something to see. I got dressed and went over to Dan’s house to find a ride to the chapel on NAS North Island since Caleb wasn’t home from work yet. I rode with Ritchie and Mike, Lexi’s uncles, and we had no problem getting on base with my dependent ID instead of having to wait for the guard to look one of them up on the guest list.
I sat in the second pew. The first had Lexi’s parents, Bibi and Shaun; her older brother Wyatt; Mike, the uncle and godfather; Karen, Bibi’s best friend and the godmother; Dan’s son Ivan with his wife Trinity and their kids Danny (Wyatt’s age) and Stephanie who sat in the second pew with Ritchie; me; Dan and his wife Yoli and her sister Maria; Dan’s daughter-in-law Lily and her daughters Ruby (Lexi’s age) and Alexandria who is a month old; and the neighbors Don and Kathy from across the street.
I didn’t know I was getting tricked into a whole service. I was a bit surprised at first by the full parking lot – wondering if they invited all the extended family as we made our way inside. Come to find out, the chapel was having their regular Saturday night service. Where I come from Catholics have church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. If you want to get together on other days you do it at a member’s house. I was glad I had come dressed for the occasion – a dress and cowboy boots – instead of jeans or pajamas.
The priest came over before the service started to let the parents and godparents know what to do while up in front of everyone. Lexi seemed like she would be less than cooperative. She gets this frightened look on her face and death grips whatever is in reach when she asks to be put upside-down and gets put too far sideways. She also didn’t want some old guy putting water on her pretty hairdo. I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation either.
I haven’t been to church in years. My brother-in-laws wedding was in November 2009 and it has been even longer since I went to Catholic Mass, so I was a little lost on some of the traditional hymns and congregational responses, but I was able to stand, sit, and kneel with the rest of them. The time came and most of the front pew joined the priest near the holy water – to cleanse and give life; oil of catechumen (one not yet initiated) – to give strength against evil; Chrism oil – olive oil (used for nourishment, light, medicine) and fragrance; and a paschal candle – to keep the flame of faith alive; with little Lexi in her white dress – a sign of acceptance and dignity.
I filmed the duration of the ceremony – priest: blesses the water; invites the congregation to profess their faith; asks a lot of questions with the answer, “I do”; pours water over Lexi for the father, son, and holy spirit; wipes most the water from her hair and face; anoints her with Chrism oil on her forehead; mentions her white garment as he touches it; Mike lights the candle; then the priest touches her ears so she may hear Jesus speak and her mouth so she may proclaim his faith. He invites the church to welcome its newest member and the candle is blown out.
Bibi tells me that Lexi did so well because she was promised M&Ms – the power of sugar and chocolate. The collection plates make their rounds before we are offered to make peace with each other by sharing a handshake or a hug. I wish this could take place more often outside of church. Then it’s time for the holiest part of mass – communion. We kneel while the priest turns bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ and offers them to God. I could’ve gotten in line with the rest of the church, but 1) I hadn’t been to confession since my last mortal sin, 2) I don’t believe in the hocus pocus, and 3) I didn’t observe the Eucharistic fast, but I’m not censured from the church or mentally deranged – that’s good.
There was some more singing, the Lord’s Prayer – which I thought I knew, but the Catholic’s version comes with some lines from the priest, another prayer, and then we were sent forth to spread God’s word. I rode back with Ritchie and Stephanie while Bibi stayed behind to get pictures with the priest. Shawn had left after the baptism – like Dan would’ve liked to do because he believes more in the bible than all this hullabaloo. I enjoyed sitting there watching the altar boy pick his nose and being able to take part in a ceremony that so many others in the world strongly believe in.
When I left the house at 4:00 pm I had texted Caleb where I would be. He replied at 6:00 pm that the base guard didn’t know where the chapel was so he had gone home. I walked across the street to get him at 6:30 and then to Bibi’s house where they were serving seven-layer dip with chips, beef enchiladas, Spanish rice, refried beans, yummy potato salad, and apple and berry pastries. Dessert was pineapple upside-down cake and M&Ms. I got handed Alexandria as all the girls – cousins to aunts to grandma to friends – took their turn. She’s about four weeks old and only six pounds – easier to carry and feed.
She fell asleep in my arms with her eyes half-open and was moved to the couch where she could stretch out. The conversations lasted until 8:30 pm when people started to realize what time it was – some have kids, some have work, and Don wanted to watch football stats since Robin Hood had been the background film for the evening. We helped clean up, took a couple of plates of leftovers, and walked home. I got my socks off before I realized I had left my camera over there. I quickly put my boots back on and ran across the street. Shawn must’ve heard me coming because he met me at the door with camera in hand.
This may just be another day of going to church and eating food with family for these Catholics, but for me it was a special moment into their traditions and another chance for me to be surrounded by loving family as we talk about killing zombies, hunting rabbits, and scaring children. We talked about shoes, lipstick, and babies. We talked about Christmas, travel, languages, military, and moving. We talked about living on the corner near traffic, a convenience store, and a bus route – and people wonder why we didn’t buy this place. Thank you Dan and Bibi for the invitation.