We had our daughter baptised last weekend. In the same Catholic church my son was baptised in 2 years ago and my husband and I were married in the year before that… unfortunately it wasn’t the same priest who married us and baptised the boy… but the new priest was a lovely man too so it was a short and beautiful ceremony.
We had a small celebration with just 20 guests…immediate family and godparents. I hope no-one was offended by their lack of invitation…it’s nothing personal.
Organising the day over the last few weeks has meant I’ve been pondering over God, the universe and everything… and well…as my hope is to print these entries out for the babes to read when they’re older… I figured I would write a few of my holy thoughts down…
I was christened as a baby… Church of England. I went to a primary school where we sang hymns and said prayers but my parents didn’t take me to church or raise me within ‘a faith’…for this reason the practice of religion… any religion… always appeared and felt a little alien to me.
In my early teens I would pray for snow so I wouldn’t have to go to school the next day… or pray that I’d be allowed to attend the school disco but I wouldn’t say I found it comforting…Unfortunately I don’t remember if my prayers were answered or not either.. but I’m guessing not. .. as I’d totes feel like I owed God one for a snow day…
I remember the first time I experienced comfort as a result of something holy very clearly. I was 18… on a train from Plymouth to Portsmouth. ..I was returning to HMS Collingwood… my home for a few months whilst I completed phase 2 training in the Royal Navy (before you ask my RN career didn’t last long as it turned out to be a sack of crap and I managed to escape within a year… primarily due to the following factoid… stay tuned…)
At a train station; you can spot anyone in the RN because they all have matching kit bags… with their surname and initial printed on them… I spotted a couple of guys getting on my train with matching bags… they sat opposite me and from earwigging their conversation I managed to ascertain that they had just ‘passed in’ to the RN and were on their way to Collingwood to start phase 2 training. I must’ve been at least 6 weeks ahead of them making me officially a salty sea dog… so I asked if they fancied sharing a taxi from the station to the base and we started chatting… allbeit about pretty mundane and boring stuff… Mid- journey we needed to change trains… as I grabbed my kit bag and slung it over my shoulder… one of the young guys said to me:
“What’s your name? Hobbs?!”
“Yeah, why?!” I replied – bemused. ..
“Were you ill at basic training or have something wrong with your kidney?!” He asked…
“Yes…” I said … utterly weirded out..
“How do you know that?!”
“We prayed for you in church. ..” he replied casually.
Twelve weeks prior to this moment, I fell off the ‘leopard crawl’ element of an assault course…about 10 feet…and split my kidney. Aside from the grade 4 tear… a CT scan revealed I was only born with one kidney (Sidney) so I was a bit poorly. I spent a week in hospital and it was decided that rest was required to allow my kidney time to naturally heal. On return to basic training the Medical Officer knew better and I completed the final few weeks of basic training with a split kidney… because I’m hardcore… and because he was an absolute douche…
Turns out… as the guys on the train explained… the week I was in hospital… the CofE Chaplain had led a little prayer for me during the Sunday morning service… I remember feeling so touched, grateful and comforted by this thought.
The older I get… the more I want to believe in God… and the more I pray… not in a knelt by the side of the bed… hands together-eyes closed… Ned Flanders style… but in a thinky-thoughtful I’m talking to you in my mind kind of way.
I desperately want to believe in God… in a similar way to how I would desperately like to believe in Father Christmas… but there is still a large proportion of my brain controlled by rational reasoning which simply won’t let me commit.
My husband comes from a Catholic family so in order to get married in a Catholic church we had to attend ‘instruction’… I guess because I bat for the other team?… but I can’t be sure. Anyhow. .. it was basically a few evenings spent with other prospective husbands & wives chatting about marriage in the eyes of the church… it was quite alright actually… it encouraged us to chat about our futures and what was important to us… including children… and I agreed that any future children we had would be brought up in the Catholic faith.
The boy was conceived just a few months after we got married… and his premature arrival meant that I prayed more than anything. .. multiple times a day in a proper *hands together – eyes closed- please don’t let my baby die* kind of way. I felt comforted knowing that other people were praying for him too…
My prayers were answered.
At least I think they were… it could of course have been a coincidence.
Having children has increased my desire for a God to exist tenfold… primarily because having babies is a massive responsibility… and the thought of a big white bearded man (this is how I imagine Him to look… in my mind… God, Father Christmas and Noah all share features which could mean that they may be mistaken for triplets separated at birth) looking over and protecting them eases the pressure somewhat.
Also, if there is a heaven… word on the street is that it’s a particularly wonderful place to be and I would very much like to go there when it is my time… I hope of course to bagsy a few seats for the rest of my family and absolute faves when I get there too.
Just as I cant 100% believe… I don’t want to 100% not believe either. It’s probably a 48/52 split. I want to believe… but having faith isn’t wanting to believe. ..is it? Surely it’s actually believing 100%?
Sometimes I feel bad that maybe I’m using God as some kind of insurance policy… ‘just in case’ ….if I believe in God, and I teach my children to believe in God…we’ll be more likely to get in to heaven…if it exists? Maybe if you’re christened you might be eligible for some kind of fast track entry to heaven … scoring extra points for the visa application?
I have attended church with my husband and our children, but I don’t especially take part (mostly because I don’t know the words… except the Amens of course…) but also because I’m not sure I believe in all of it…and that makes me feel a little uncomfortable… especially being someone who prides themselves on saying what I mean and meaning what I say. Despite this; I do enjoy going because I love the sense of peace that the church offers me… even if it’s just time to take a little breather from the mania of family life and to reflect on my own thoughts, God, the universe… and everything else.
Maybe, the older I get- the more I’ll believe… I guess only time will tell… and there’s plenty of time for me to get my faith on… I hope.
My Dear Babies,
If you have stumbled across this in the attic or under the bed…firstly I apologise for the dust…
Secondly, I’d like to explain why it was important to your daddy and I to have you baptised…
We wanted you to believe in something bigger and better and nicer than what planet Earth can offer you… because frankly you are so wonderfully awesome that we feel like you deserve more.
We wanted you to feel comfortable around and respectful toward all religion and in your own skin. We hoped that by bringing you up ‘in a faith’ you would be able to find comfort in it… perhaps when times are difficult or when your daddy and I can no longer be physically there to watch over you and cuddle things away.
I hoped that baptising you might help in the heaven selection process. .. (daddy laughs at me about this) I hope that you are protected by a God and guided toward goodness… not only for your own sakes but because I want to believe too.
We love you all the way to heaven… and back.