The Brothers were companions to us in so many ways in the year leading up to the birth of our twins, Franny and Jamie. Brian and I came for the community Eucharist almost every Tuesday evening. Geoffrey helped me think about how God might be present in the remarkable experience I was having carrying twins into the world, and encouraged me to ponder more deeply Mary’s experience of pregnancy, which I hadn’t really done before. Kevin helped Brian wrap his mind and heart around his coming vocation as a father.
The Brothers truly have been our brothers in Christ: showing through their work and their commitment to helping us thrive, the love of God that the Body of Christ is called to embody. So it seemed natural for us to have our twins baptized at the Monastery, and to ask the Brothers to take on the ministry of doing the baptizing. I know that some clergy look forward to baptizing their own children, but I wanted to be fully and only a mother that day – that was plenty of ministry to offer! – and to let someone else be the priest.
Because I was able to watch Curtis doing the dunking and anointing, I have such a clear memory of it: the large blue pot filled with warm water; the abundance of flowers around it; the smiling faces of the people looking on; Curtis holding tiny, six-week-old bodies – first Franny and then Jamie – and carefully, but confidently, dipping them three times.
As the years have passed, my thankfulness for that day has only deepened. Being a parent is not easy. The world is not easy. And the Brothers have continued to live into their promise to “do all in their power to support these children in their life in Christ.” In his sermon on that day, Br. Curtis offered these thoughts on the candles which were given to our children as a sign of the light of Christ:
Some day it will likely be a great comfort for them to realize that we were thinking they would need a sign of light during a future time that is dark. And so, in this way, the candles are beacons of hope which they cannot yet appreciate but we do, their sisters and brothers. It is not easy to be alive these days. Probably never was. But it is possible and wonder-full with help.
I am sure that, someday, Franny and Jamie will take comfort from the fact that the Brothers were thinking of them. What I do know is that throughout the last nine years, Brian and I have taken comfort in that fact. In my work as a priest, when I prepare families for the baptism of their child, I aspire to practice the kind of thoughtfulness and constancy that has been shown to us as parents by the community of SSJE.
– The Rev. Amy McCreath