I have so much to say about this very special post. The Potts family has been as much a part of my life as any other. My mother and Kari Potts were suite mates at Auburn. She is my sister’s God mother and my parents are their youngest daughter’s God parents. Their eldest son, Jay, was my first boyfriend (I was in 1st grade) and their middle child, Helen, was my childhood best friend. Our families are intertwined in ways. And the last few years for them have held some very hard things. Some really happy things too- 2 weddings and now the birth of a beautiful baby boy. His baptism this Saturday seemed momentous. His very proud daddy said he was “entering the Kingdom.” That’s pretty momentous all by itself. And knowing the family as I do, I’m emotional!
I have attended a few Orthodox ceremonies in the last 10 years. One of which was a baptism. I don’t remember it as poignantly as this one, though. There are so many sweet and serious parts. In fact, I had to do a little research in order to appropriately document this day. For one thing, the parents are not involved in the practical parts of the baptism. They select Godparents. The beginning of the Godparent/child relationship is this day. “Along with the parents, the Godparent is charged with the responsibility of assisting in the spiritual development of the child. The Godparent becomes a part of the ‘spiritual family’ of that Godchild.” (info courtesy of http://www.orthodoxconvert.info ) It goes on to say that the Godparents are “obligated to edify them in the rules of Christian life.” If you need evidence of how seriously this is taken, look at the faces of the Godparents, Adam and Tatiana. The pride on their faces is the same as if it was their own child. I was amazed by their expressions as I looked through these.
Kari made Baby J’s gown. Talent, wouldn’t you say?The parents are on the right- Jay wearing a gray suit and beautiful Mary just behind him.Now get ready. Orthodox baptisms are by immersion. They dunk the baby 3 times. Here is why, according to St. Cyril, “”Thus, with the help of these signs you have represented the three-day burial of Christ because, as our Saviour was in the heart of the earth three days and three nights, so in the first coming up from the water you symbolized the first day of His sojourn under the earth, and through your immersion, you symbolized the night. For, as one who walks in the night sees nothing, and he who walks during the day does so in light, so you, having immersed yourself in water saw nothing, as if you saw nothing in the night, and having come forth from the water, you see everything as in daylight. You were both dead and then born. So the salvific water was for you both a coffin and a mother. Although we neither actually die, nor get buried, nor are we nailed to the cross, but only simulate this symbolically, we, however, do indeed achieve salvation. Christ was truly crucified, truly buried, and truly resurrected. He granted all this to us, so that we, in imitating His passions, would become partakers of them and indeed would achieve salvation.” (http://www.orthodoxinfo.com)Now that you’ve seen that series, go back and look at Kari. (she’s wearing a black dress with beautiful, short, white/silver hair.) In the first image she’s all smiles and happy. The next, she’s shocked and horrified and in the last, I don’t think she’s breathing until she sees that he is.
I’m told that Baby J looks just like his daddy. Something about Kari kissing a baby that looks just like her baby did 35 years ago makes me tear up every time. I think the kiss is as soothing to her as it is to him!Doesn’t he look like he’s saying, “Mommy, I know it’s ok because I can see you again??”After the naked baptism, the infant comes back out in clothes and is annointed. “People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit, power or god. It can also be seen as a spiritual mode of ridding persons and things of dangerous influences. The newly illuminate (i.e., newly baptized) person is anointed by making the sign of the cross with the [oil] on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, lips, both ears, breast, hands and feet.” (wikipedia.com) “After confirming the child, the priest cuts three locks of hair from his head. This is an expression of gratitude for receiving God’s blessings in baptism and confirmation. Having nothing to give in return, the gift of his hair (a symbol of strength like Samson) is a promise to serve God with all his strength.” (http://www.kimisis.org/Orthodoxy/Baptism.html)
I hope this blog wasn’t too text heavy! I just felt that the ceremony was so special that a little needed to be known in order to really appreciate the images. If you want more explanation, because every single thing in this hour-long ceremony is meaningful, this site seems to simplify it best.
Congratulations Potts family- it was an honor to be there.