Baptism at Brooks Street

water and Spirit
bestow grace and belonging:
communion of saints

My godson Vasco was baptized today in the ocean at Brooks Street. I was honored to be a part of the service, and, along with his other godparents, shared some thoughts on what I hoped Vasco's baptism would mean to him. This is what I read:

When Cathi and Maury asked us, Vasco’s godparents, to say a few words about our hopes, wishes and prayers for Vasco, I thought about a poem by Mary Oliver I had just read in a book they gave me for my birthday. It made me think of Vasco, and the long journey that brought him from Malawi to Chicago to our little tribe here in Laguna Beach, and the sense of wonder and also grace that I have seen Vasco bring to each new experience.

I also found in this poem echoes of a prayer that comes from the service of baptism in the Book of Common Prayer. So I’m going to read both for you—the prayer and the poem, and Vasco, today as we receive you into the household of God, these are my hopes, wishes and prayers for you:

Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy 
Spirit you have bestowed upon this your servant Vasco the 
forgiveness of sin, and have raised him to the new life of
 grace. Sustain him, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give him
 an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to 
persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy
 and wonder in all your works. Amen.

Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous

to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the

mouths of the lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever

in allegiance with gravity

while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds will

never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the

scars of damage,

to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those

who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say

“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,

and bow their heads.

--Mary Oliver