Monday, 12 July 2010
After days of preparation and weeks of nervous tension, the day was absolutely perfect.
Rain clouds were scattered by the winds that dusted my windowsills and aired my curtains overnight, the sun gleamed on my polished floors, and the day dawned bright and fresh.
Last minute preparations were carried out in a frenzy of anxious excitement as the minutes ticked away before church; Anthony made the tomato and mozzarella salad that had haunted his dreams, I glued down the corners of bunting that had been hung hastily in the dark, James surprised everyone by displaying an ability to clean and tidy, and John humoured me by filling his nappy before he was changed into his Sunday best.
Then with smiles on our faces and shine on our shoes we assembled outside the church to welcome cherished friends and marvel with others at the beauty of our boy.
Every time I looked up, another well-loved face had appeared at the church gate. There were old friends and new friends, often-seen family and rarely-seen family too, and each time someone waved hello to us and wrinkled their nose to smile at John I felt happiness kiss my cheek.
The church drew us into its quiet darkness with the promise of sacred secrets and the service spoke to us with easy familiarity, solemn formality and the joy of well-known hymns.
John stared in awe at the height of the church roof and smiled happily for the congregation, and when it was time for him to be christened he looked so unperturbed at the feeling of cold water on his head that everybody laughed.
I had expected emotion to overwhelm me just as it had the first time we'd had John blessed, but on the day I felt nothing but joy. Love oozed from above and around and within creating currents that whorled and crashed against one another, God's abundant gifts were clear for all to see and I couldn't work out who was more blessed, John at being welcomed into God's family, or me at being privileged to witness it.
After the service we lead a procession of party-goers down the lane to our half-finished house where people piled their plates high with homemade food, then sat in the dappled shade of the apple tree to eat it.
The walls might have been breeze-blocks, the floor might have been concrete and the garden might have been builders-rubble, but on that afternoon as the wind whisked my skirts into soft peaks and the sun gleamed off John's silk romper, I wanted to change nothing about my life.
I watched as John was passed from one person to another and marvelled at the fact that these people who loved James and me now, miraculously, loved John too.
I wondered at the endless smiles that John bestowed on our guests and I swelled with pride in my home, my family, my baby and my life.
Overall, it was a day full of blessings. It was a blessing that the sun shone, it was a blessing to see John baptized, it was a blessing to meet with so many loved ones, it was a blessing to be able to welcome people into our home, and it was a blessing to feel so grown-up, so proud, so happy and so very blessed.