In the summer months we celebrate several anniversaries.
July 20th, is our Anna’s baptism anniversary. A sweet and simple day that always brings back wonderful chrism smell memories. The reminder that our daughter is sealed in Christ.
Her anniversary reminds me that today, and everyday, no matter her physical, mental, or emotional state, God chooses Anna as his daughter. His mercy and grace are so big, that he would even offer them to a baby who can offer nothing in return.
As I remember the water flowing over her head, her wearing a sweet white gown, passed down from the generation before, and the oh so holy smell of the oils on her head, my mind is also reminded of the loss we felt during this same time.
Mary Ann Finn 1931-2013
The day we found out we were pregnant with Anna, was the day I returned home after my grandmother’s funeral. She died so sweetly, at an old age. Her last years were filled with a child like faith as her mind gave way to Alzheimer’s. All six of her children stood around her bed, singing, praying, and celebrating her life. She died July 26th, 2013. I can imagine baptismal water flowing over her head as her capacity to speak and reason gave way. God’s mercy covering her after a life full in every way.
Mahfouz El-Tawil 1933-2014
Again, not more than a month after Anna’s arrival in the world, we lost my paternal grandfather on May 4th, 2014. My Geddo died quickly, in hospice, surrounded by his children and wife. He was a man dedicated to his family, accomplished in his life, and big in his laughter. It’s a comfort to think about the hours he spent with others at the end of their life as a volunteer for a hospice organization and then how in his last days he was the one left in others care, entrusted to the love he built in his family and his community.
As I consider the stories of their last days on earth, I am reminded of our helpless and needy Anna on her baptism. At 3 months of age, she could do nothing for herself, she was in complete need all the time. She was dependent physically on us and this loudly mirrored her dependence spiritually on the gift of Jesus. Both my grandparents lived full lives with ups and downs and roller coasters in between and I had the privilege to be a part of a quarter of those lives. Although I am not privy to every hardship and every joy, one thing is clear. In those moments, of physical death, as their bodies failed and they were dependent on the care of others, they were again, as always, offered an opportunity of abundant life in Christ.
Just as Anna, in her infant life, died to sin, she was reborn in baptism on July 20th. When I realize the abundance of grace in that moment I am overwhelmed, and know that this same grace and mercy was raining down on my grandparents as they took their final breaths.
In each anniversary, for the 3-month-old Anna, the 81-year-old Geddo and 84-year-old Grandma, it was God’s grace sustaining and covering us. Whether at the beginning or end of a life.
So it continues
And so the story continues for us, June 25th of this year our sweet Stuart Joseph will be baptized. The same day in 2005 that his great-grandfather and namesake Stuart Davis took his last breath.
With each new life for our family also comes the reminder of death, death to sin and death in body. But in this death the promise of life in Christ is made known.
“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every thing under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4