Today, my godson turns 4. This is a letter I wrote to him before his baptism. It’s about learning, listening, and love (among other things). But, mostly, love. Enjoy.
You probably don’t remember the first time we met. You were less than 1-day old and, as a result, pretty exhausted. I had to suppress my eagerness to scoop you away from your parents at the hospital. Thankfully, your kind and intuitive Dad sensed my impatience and gingerly nestled you into my arms. It was the day after Halloween, and you were, at once, the greatest treat imaginable and a trick of human emotion. How could I possibly love you this much already? What is this feeling of muffled peace absorbing me, like snow banks absorb the sound of city traffic? Nothing else existed for a few moments, just you.
It’s been said that “We’re not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience,” so I guess it makes sense that you seemed spiritual to me from the beginning. It also makes sense that I’m going to officially become your godmother today . . . but that might have more to do with the fact that I gave your Mom full permission to be a raving lunatic when you were in her belly and causing her to act like a raving lunatic. This is one of life’s greatest riches: friendship in the face of lunacy.
The particulars of my job as a godparent are well-established. Dote on you with affection and toys; indulge you with sweets; overlook the mud on your shoes and crumbs on the floor; encourage finger-painting, drum-playing, and staying up past bedtime, at which point I’ll, of course, return you to your Mom and Dad.
Yet, in more traditional terms, my duties also include the support and cultivation of your spiritual well-being. And, while finger-painting and mud-tracking as spiritual practices might not be too far-flung, I should probably offer you some actual insight, as we prepare for the formal festivities.
I apologize, in advance, for the baptismal water on your head and odd circumstance of having lots of people ogle at you while wearing a dress (albeit a fashionable one, knowing your Mom’s impeccable taste). There’s nothing I can do about this. Your best defense is to have a big breakfast and hope to feel drowsy enough that the rites of passage at church don’t bug you much.
In terms of your spiritual development following your baptism, I have only a few recommendations:
Learn. Listen. Love.
Learn about the world around you. Study many religions, but, also, study trees and clouds and birds. Read books because they enlighten and excite you. Your spirit will be happier and stronger for this.
Listen to others, particularly the people who love you (at least until you’re a teenager), the sounds of nature that surround you, and, most importantly, listen to silence. It’s during these quiet moments that God will speak to you most clearly.
And, finally, love. There are many feeble definitions of what God is, but the one I like best is the following: God is love.