It’s been a long day. It’s been a tiring day. More than anything, it’s been a slightly disquieting day.
Because now, sat here writing to you, I suddenly find myself a Baptised Christian.
Yes friends you read that right.
“But Josie!” I hear you cry! “Are you not famous for your public and extremely vocal rejection of organised religion, favouring instead a more free-thinking, spiritually diverse discourse?”. Well, yes! Yes I am, person with a very eloquent way of putting it!
Ok, an involuntary Baptised Christian.
For today I went to a Christening.
Now I don’t like Christenings. As a non-Christian there is nothing more likely to cause me spiritual and philosophical discomfort, and internal pew fidgeting than the Christening or Baptism of a baby. But, as my friends will keep insisting on producing gorgeous offspring, and as I love these friends and respect their choices, from time time I find myself attending one.
Needless to say, we didn’t have Kai Christened, opting instead to be the first of anyone we knew to write and conduct our own naming ceremony. Caused quite a few raised eyebrows amongst the elderly relatives but once they’d got over the misconception that it would involve some kind of elaborate goat sacrifice and women with bare breasts and names like “Ephinany Moon-Jewel” (it didn’t), it actually all went down rather well.
But other people? Well they like Christenings don’t they? It’s a big rite of passage for them and their child and a cause of much celebration and excitement and joy and silver plated trinket boxes. And that’s fair enough. So several times a year I force myself to swallow back my self-righteous opinions, put on something fancy, and… *deep breath*… go to church.
Today was one of those days.
So there we are. At church. Ant is resplendent in a badly pressed shirt and I am wearing make-up (an even rarer event than me attending church) and posh trousers with only a little amount of baby leakage on. And there are my lovely friends. H looking beautiful and radiant with an adorable new-mummy glow, and her precious new baby breaking all records for unbelievable cuteness and prettiness and making me rethink the whole “I’m not ready for another baby” with just a few heartbreaking smiles.
Kai has been miserable with a cold the last day or two and was not on best form, starting to whinge and squirm within a record ten seconds of the service beginning. So I quickly made a hasty retreat to the back of the church to the children’s play corner to observe the rest of the proceedings from afar whilst playing Thomas the Tank Engine Goes Large and Liturgical (very very quietly) .
And it’s all going ok! Kai’s only had one minor meltdown when a small child dared to look at him funny and I have done my usual trick of zoning out through the particularly irksome parts. Me and Kai did some half-hearted dancing and clapping to the hymn sung to the tune of the Flintstones just to show willing (Flintstones??! Yes really. Let no one say that church is not cool) and stood up to wave and smile at the important dunking moment.
And then it happened.
Young female vicar with a rather forced air of ‘hip and happening’ mumbled something about honouring all OUR Baptisms (a rather arrogant assumption if you ask me but there you go) and began prancing around the church waving a bunch of sticks spraying holy water all over the unwitting congregation (ironically if we’d done anything similar at Kai’s naming ceremony, no doubt all the ERs would have immediately condemned it as some kind of new age witchcraft tomfoolery!). Now I renounced my childhood Baptism when I decided that Christianity was no longer for me, (yep, I’m going straight to hell, but at least I won’t be going there a hypocrite!). So as hip vicar ambled her way towards me little did she know that she was approaching something of a clean sheet. Nope. No taint of Baptism here.
It took me a minute to figure out what was happening. First I saw my husband a few pews in front take an unsuspecting hit, and before I knew it, she was upon me. And upon Kai.
I saw Ant turn quickly round with a look of shock and apprehension on his face as he realised what was about to happen. He later told me in the car that he turned fully expecting to see a scene straight out of ‘The Bodyguard’ in which I, with a slow-motion NOOOOOOOOO! threw my unprotected body in front of Kai’s poor defenseless form to take the hit in his place, the holy water hissing as it hit my heathen skin. In reality, nothing quite so exciting happened, Kai (with more foresight than I) chose that moment to duck behind some soft play apparatus…
…but I wasn’t so lucky. No that’s right, I was blessed (and no, the water didn’t make a hissing sound as it hit me).
It was quite a shock I can tell you. Inadvertant baptism was certainly NOT on my lists of things to do that day.
But do you want to know what was worse?
Ant hurried over soon after looking pale and anxious (and a little damp) which I initially assumed was in anticipation of my inevitable (and probably vocal) rage over the whole affair.
Because as she feverishly sprayed the congregation, sitting, inoculously on top of the pew was a beautiful one-of-a kind hand-made piece of stationary I had crafted at the request of my friend for their after-Chistening Party. And now, held in Ant’s trembling hand was said piece of priceless creativity. Covered in water drops with the ink running in big blobs.
Unbelievable. Who knew church was such a dangerous place?
So what do you think I should sue them for first? The forced indoctrination into their religion? Or the ruined handy-crafts?
Either way, next time I’ll be sure to remember to wear my anti-baptism waterproof suit and keep my belongings in a zip-up plastic bag. Just in case it’s another Christening of the ‘spray-per-view’ variety.
P.S. Congratulations H & D – despite the unexpected inclement indoor weather it was a lovely occasion and you both looked such a picture of pride and contentment (and L is LOADS prettier than all the other babies). Sorry we had to leave early – absolutely nothing to do with the accidental baptism and everything to do with a very tired, grumpy baby needing an early night! Love you loads x