Yesterday we had the joy and privilege of attending our son’s Baptism and Chrismation into the Orthodox Church. Trying to put on paper what the soul and the heart feel is truly ‘soul-writing’ and not something done lightly, but early Friday I wrote to Jonathan and shared it at the gathering following his baptism. I have included it here, for part of my journey as a Reluctant Orthodox has been about family and watching Jonathan go through his own process has been part of mine. Thank you for being a part of this journey.
Tomorrow in obedience to God’s work in your life you will be baptized, entering into a new phase of your journey of faith.
You were born in Cairo on the banks of the Nile River – a veritable Moses. You came into the chaos of a family of six, taking us to the heavenly seven as well as moving us into a place where we would need a mini van for a long time. You don’t know this, but while I was pregnant with you I was anointed with oil and someone prayed specifically over you. I’ve held to that moment many times through the years. When you were born I knew a love that was infinitely bigger and stronger than my circumstances – you were perfect. And you were so long – a good five inches longer than your sister who had come 3 ½ years prior.
From young I knew you had a sensitivity to God –from when you said you “hated Jesus” while I was shutting the light off and tucking you in to when you feared for your brother Joel’s salvation after he was teasing you mercilessly one day. You are child of my heart and ‘get’ what I am trying to express spiritually before I find words to express it. I think I told you last year that you are the only one of the kids I don’t mind getting up as early as I do in the morning. Somehow we can just sit in silence and our own thoughts and know it’s all good..
And then came the hard years – years where I prayed hard, cried harder, and begged God to “please do something.” There were some gifts within that time — Extension school and Oxford. I thought Oxford was the solution – if you went away you would perhaps find God. And though it was wonderful, and you had people who reflected faith to you, in his sovereignty God brought you back. Though for a short time I think life probably felt bleaker than it had before you left.
But you began coming with us to Holy Resurrection and seemed okay with it.
It was a cold January night and you were alone in the house when you met God in a profound way. When you knelt before those icons, our windows to Heaven, in our room and prayed. It was a conversion of the truest sort. Soon after many began to come into your life and speak truth and you responded. Seraphim, Olenka, Ephraim, Zach, Sophia, Aaron, Michael – too many to name here. You began to meet with Father Patrick and experience the life of the Church.
I well remember you and I marveling over our celebration of Pascha last year. In my then 53 years of life, I had never experienced such a joyous Easter. To have priests burst forth into “Christ is Risen” in five languages every time there was even a hint of sleepy was something we couldn’t stop grinning over.
And tomorrow you are going to be baptized as a witness to your faith, a step of obedience. The changes and light I see in your life are nothing short of miraculous and my only response is to kneel before God in true thanksgiving. You have helped this reluctant Orthodox in more ways than you will ever know.
In the Third Epistle of John, the apostle John writes “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4) These are indeed the words that describe what I feel.
I love you more than words can say and close with the word of the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21
Love from your Mom