Posted: Dec 25, 2013 6:00 AM
 
Combining family tradition with our unique faith, we continue the ritual of baptism for our children in our own way — a celebration of their life and a public commitment to model love.

In the closet my son shares with his sister, tucked behind the long white gown my mother made — the one both my girls wore for their dedication ceremonies — is a new white romper. I admit I spent too long searching for the perfect one and got childishly excited when I found it — white cotton basket weave fabric, Peter Pan collar and matching hat. My son will likely only wear it once, but that one time will be special. It is, after all, for his not-really-a-baptism ceremony — an event rooted in generations of religious tradition but shaped over time by our family to reflect our own beliefs and heritage.

I grew up in the church, the daughter of a pastor and the granddaughter of a bishop. My grandfather baptized me as an infant, a ceremony that was held in a church, attended by family and sanctified by a rose dipped into a silver baptismal font (the same one my dad still uses for his ceremonies) and stroked across my forehead with the words "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

I treasure rituals, their spiritual significance and the reverence they bring to the routine of everyday life.

I was too little, of course, to understand the significance of a baptism ceremony. But since then, I've heard a number of explanations and attended enough ceremonies in churches, on beaches and in homes to understand that this tradition holds unique meaning for both families and doctrines. While I don't buy into the belief that a baptism ceremony — an outward event — is, in any way, required to be good, saved, blessed, (fill in religious perk of your choice), etc., I still love this respected tradition. I treasure rituals, their spiritual significance and the reverence they bring to the routine of everyday life. And while many doctrines may dispute the specifics of the "'why" and "how" behind an infant baptism, we've expanded our ceremony to fit our beliefs and what's important to us. In fact, we don't call it a baptism or christening, but rather simply a dedication — an opportunity for us to come together and recognize that our baby is a gift from God. Much like a wedding where couples make public vows, at our baby dedications we commit to love and model love for our children, and our friends and family join us in our commitment.

Since our faith is gathered from a collection of truths and inspiration, our dedication ceremony follows suit — the ritual part of it incorporating Biblical scripture, children's literature and poetry, but the most memorable part residing in the celebration that follows. Over good food, friends huddle to tell stories while minding to the children we all share.

"Your children are not your children. They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you."

As Kahlil Gibran wrote, "Your children are not your children. They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you."

It's perfect "Welcome to the World" for our son. In a few weeks, our boy will wear his new white romper and continue the tradition of rose-to-forehead. It's not really a baptism. It's a celebration…

…what a gift you are, sweet child.

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