Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Namings

Father came over on Wednesday and performed the short (and I do mean short, even for non-Orthodox...as in, say, five to ten minutes!) service of the signing and naming of the child. Orthodoxy is stone-cold sober when it comes to our spirituality, but both mother and father of the now-named Katherine Ruth couldn't help but tear up at the prayer given by Father, as this is our heart for both our daughters:
"O Lord our God, we entreat You, and we supplicate You, that the light of Your countenance be signed on this, Your handmaid, Katherine, and that the Cross of Your Only-begotten Son be signed in her heart and understanding, so that she may flee from the vanity of the world and from every evil snare of the enemy, and may follow after Your commandments. And grant, O Lord, that Your holy name may remain unrejected by her, and that, in due time, she may be joined to Your Holy Church, and that she may be perfected by the dread Mysteries of Your Christ, so that, having lived according to Your commandments, and having preserved the seal unbroken, she may receive the blessedness of the elect in Your kingdom: By the grace and love for mankind of Your Only-begotten Son, with Whom You are blessed, together with Your Most-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."
Anyone looking for an explanation of why we do this on the eighth day, as well as the basis for the naming ceremony in the first place should read this, from a site under the Church of Greece.

We were also blessed--and surprised!--to receive an icon of Ruth from a fellow parishioner! This beautiful icon was painted by a Father David in Seattle, and is a timely gift, since we were wondering when/how to purchase an icon of Kati's middle-name saint. This lovely icon--painted in a material I can't place--now hangs above her crib.

The service was attended by our parents, none of whom are Orthodox, so it was a bit awkward, but all were, as expected, very respectful. A good opportunity to bear witness to the very last thing most folks would consider "mere Christianity" yet which we would (in our best moments as converts) fit right into...

It's strange--sometimes I catch myself wondering how I wound up here..."What a long, strange trip it's been" and all that. Surely I never would have placed myself here if I had at all been in control of it or gone where I'd have immediately chosen to go...so I wonder, if I--being familiar with the services, the prayer life, the, well, the being Orthodox--have these moments, what must our parents have been thinking, feeling? Were they wondering where they went wrong? What they could have done differently? What the odds were that two similarly "odd" young people would find each other and go off together into this bizarre faith?

A poem I wrote in college during my catechumenate comes back to me now (I'm amazed I still have it). If you'll indulge me and--those who are better poets than I--forgive my probable triteness...

Orthodoxy

You don’t u n d o t w e n t y y e a r s
in one.


This fabric’s a complex, recent weave
with new materials
new fabrics
new patterns
new threads coming in

Some of those already woven in no longer fit,
but stretch
and bulge
and some just break clean off.

They must be disentangled
(careful, now)
by hands that fear the unraveling of it all.

This will not be done in a year, or ten.

No,
I will ever be surprised
(and often frightened)
by the patterns that appear
(and disappear)
throughout the years.

But,
Even when I cease
to weave these earthen tones and,
Weaver willing,
move to patterns everlasting,

I shall still be weaving.

*****

Yes, there're lots of names being called, and it's not only limited to that of our newborn. We call on the name of the Lord, that Name that shines forth from those eternally present icons of the River Jordan. The name of He Who has brought us here, for reasons we most likely can't even fathom yet. We call on Him, having taken names ourselves of ones who now are, by God's presence, what God is by His very nature. Their glory--and our hope!--is Christ in them, causing their souls to shine as sunlight even as they wait for what Rich Mullins has described as "skin as clear as the stained glass panels that make their skin, and [we] will shine like they do now...." should we keep that Name on our lips to the end, should we live up to those names called over us at our baptisms, those names called over us by our Lord and His holy ones as we approach His Cup...

7 comments:

Gary said...

I can identify with your musing 'what a long, strange trip it has been'. Who'd a thunk a Southern Fried Baptist boy like me would end up in the One Holy Apostolic Catholic - Eastern Orthodox Church? Strange trip indeed.

Again, many years to the newly named Kathrine Ruth!!!

Thor said...

Many years to Katherine Ruth!

I like your poem, too.

Ian said...

A beautiful poem.

And a beautiful icon.

Many years!

Philippa said...

Many years to Katherine Ruth!

Mom, you look positively fantastic for just having had a baby 8 days ago!

As for the poem, Dad, it is truly a prayer in so many ways. Thank you for sharing it. They are words true for so many of us.

Mimi said...

Many Years!

I have something for you guys, if you'd email me your addy.

Yvonne said...

Beautiful poem.

Congratulations to you both on the baby.

A number of other traditions (Unitarians, Quakers, Pagans and Jews) have started blog aggregator projects to bring their faith dialogues together.

I think it would be interesting and helpful to do something similar with Orthodox blogs -what d'you reckon? Take a look at QuakerQuaker for a good example.

Rhology said...

Now that there's a prayer I could (and basically do, only less poetically) pray over my baby daughter.