Sophia at RevGalBlogPals will be spending this weekend at her Independent Catholic Synod meeting, “being welcomed and conditionally re-consecrated to episcopal ministry for this jurisdiction” (she has had a big cross-country move recently). This inspired her to post as follows:
“This has me thinking of the special rites of passage in our lives which we participate for ourselves or in which we support and bless others: baptism, confirmation, marriage, ordination, graduation, funerals, etc. Such important days, so exciting and joyous, but also sometimes anxiety provoking or deeply painful....So, this week, please share five memories of such sacred moments with God and her holy people from your life and the lives of those you love.”
1. Here’s a photo from our wedding in the Catholic Chapel at Brunswick Naval Air Station. (It was a better size for our purpose than the Protestant chapel.) Only one person in this picture was not in the military at the time. The officiant was the chaplain, a Navy Captain. I especially remember our nervousness when we went for the pre-marital consultation – not only did he way outrank us, but he had the power to say he wouldn’t marry us! (Of course, in Maine a notary public can perform a marriage, but we did want a religious service.)
I’m pretty sure I’ve posted Sisterfilms’ baptism photo before, so here’s a picture of the kransekage her aunt made for the reception at church afterwards. The white rose for baptism was a custom at our church. Now a picture of a cake may not seem to fit Sophia’s challenge to remember feeling close to God and God’s people, but I think it does. These cakes are a lot of work – they are really more like cookies baked in concentric rings, and having Onkel Hankie Pants’ sister (the long-haired one in the wedding photo) bake this cake was not only a special gift, but a reminder of the importance of OHP’s family’s Danish heritage, with its Grundtvigian joy in living.
3. Confirmation in the UCC generally happens sometime between 8th and 10th grade. In our city church, eighth grade was the time, because after that kids got too busy with school activities, and they didn’t all go to the same school. Here’s a photo from SonShineIn’s confirmation – he’s the one in the front row wearing a suit (his choice). I don’t think this confirmation “took” in a religious sense for him, but I think it was important as a rite of passage and a recognition of his belonging in the community.
4. Graduation, since none of us so far have attended any strongly church-related schools, is a fairly secular affair. But I’ve chosen this not-very-good photo from Sisterfilms’ 8th-grade graduation to symbolize again the holiness in community. Although all our kids completed 8th grade in the same school, this was the first graduation to be held in the building during our time there. The wider community of the city and state had provided funds for a renovation and enlargement of the school. The children, parents, teachers and staff of this K-8 school had been a community for us for eleven years at this point, and Sisterfilms was the one in the family who had known no other school. She had been honored with the Ann Bancroft Humanitarian Award for her peacemaking skills. Parent volunteers made the “Oscar” figurines, found a red carpet, etc. for the “Academy Awards” theme of the graduation, and in this photo Sisterfilms is getting a hug and a diploma from her homeroom, math and dance teacher Allison. We were fortunate in the “village” that helped us raise our children.
5. Funerals – I didn’t attend so much as a memorial service until I was nearly 30, as distance and economics had kept us from the relatively few that occurred in my family before that. Since then I’ve been to a number of memorial services and a few funerals. I felt the least satisfactory – the ones where I thought “I hope mine isn’t like this” – were the few that took place in funeral homes. I think there is something about a church or other place of worship, the hallowing that has taken place over years of gatherings for both celebration and mourning, the knowledge that this place where we mourn our loved ones is also the place where baptisms, weddings, Christmas and Easter take place, which helps us face our losses with hope as well as sorrow.
So here’s a photo of the church from which we buried OHP’s parents. An earlier building of the same congregation was where his Mom was baptized and confirmed, and we had attended weddings and celebratory services there over the years.