Monday, May 23, 2011

Crying for love

Yesterday was a typical Sunday in the churches of hill and vale.
We met with God in Word and Sacrament, we worshipped, we did a little gentle complaining about our neighbours and the state of the world today (because, after all, what family gathering is complete without a good whinge about someone?) and then, as I do most Sundays from Easter to Harvest, I welcomed three new Christians into the family of the church through Baptism...

As is generally the case, the church was alive with the sound of children - both happy giggles and desolate cries.....but as the service got under way, things calmed down till just one voice could be heard wailing loudly. Not the candidate, little B. He was snuggled peacefully in his father's arms, but across the aisle a little girl, about 9 months old, seemed quite inconsolable despite the best efforts of her granny. 

I always start Baptism services by saying that the one forbidden word in my churches is "Shhhh" - so was fully expecting to manage the service with infant backing-group til a younger woman got up from the pew behind grandma and wailing child, scooped the infant into her arms and took her across the aisle to where the baptism candidate and his family were sitting. Fascinated I watched as the sad little girl opened her arms and enfolded young B in an embrace. As she did so, the most beautiful smile transformed her red, blotchy, tear stained face so that it bore an expression of pure joy.
She had been crying because she wanted to share her love for B and had been thwarted and miserable because she couldn't reach him.

As both babies relaxed into their hug, the whole congregation was softened by their love - and it became wonderfully easy to talk about baptism as our first response to the love that God has always had for us.
Reflecting on the multitude of infants I baptise and will never encounter again, though, I wondered if that experience of crying for love was in itself an important insight into the divine.
We choose, again and again, to put ourselves as far out of God's reach as we can...
We turn away instead of relaxing into his arms...and as we do so, perhaps we make God cry.


Songbird said...

Lovely, lovely. Thank you so much for telling this story.

Song in my Heart said...

Quite beautiful! And how perceptive of the young woman, who knew what the child wanted and wasn't afraid to change things to make it possible.

Perpetua said...

What a wonderful incident and how beautifully you use it to illustrate the love of God. Thank you.