Friday, April 17, 2009

Becoming a Better Godparent--Send Baptismal Anniversary Cards

One of the things I meant to do, and I am resolved to do from now on, was to send my nephew, for whom I am the Christian Monitor (or Godmother), a card each year on the anniversary of his baptism.

I plan to make these cards myself. I haven't planned these out, but I like the idea of drawing something myself, or collaging images, or something that isn't mass-marketed (besides, my local Target doesn't have much). Plus, I want to write something each year.

What to write? Here are some ideas:

--If you were at the baptism, write your memories of your godchild's baptism.

--If you've been at baptisms for others in the godchild's family, write those memories.

--What did your family tell you about your baptism?

--If you know some of the spiritual stories of the family, write those down.

--Write about your own family's responses to baptism. Did your family celebrate your baptismal anniversary with you? Did you light the baptismal candle?

--You could also write about the family practices of your friends as you were growing up. Did they celebrate their baptisms.

--Write about what baptism means to you. You might talk about the water one year, the words the next.

--As your godchild gets older, write about what baptism has meant to famous theologians. For example, I love the story of Martin Luther, who is said to have said "Baptismo Sum" (Latin for "I am baptized") each morning as he washed. Not a bad daily habit.

--As your godchild gets older, you might introduce your godchild to the idea that different denominations within Christianity treat baptism differently. You might explain some of those differences (and you should try to avoid being judgmental if you can; you might not approve of adult baptism, but your godchild might grow up and fall in love with someone who does).

--If you have some photos, send a different one each year. Use those as a writing prompt.

I think that what often keeps me from writing is that I fear I don't have enough to say. But most people enjoy receiving something in the mail, even if the message is brief. Even if you only have a sentence or two, send it.

And if you enjoy these activities, why limit yourself to just once a year? Send something once a quarter or once a month. Your task, as Godparent, is to help to shape that child's spiritual life. There are many different things you could write about, and tomorrow, I'll provide some more writing prompts. And as your godchild receives your cards/writings/photos/gifts, your godchild will receive a gentle reminder of who that child is and of all the people (and God!) who love that child.

My final thought will seem grim, but it must be said. We tend to assume that we'll live long lives and shepherd our godchildren safely into and through adulthood. But we can't assume that. And even if we do live long lives, our memories tend to fade. Your godchild needs you to provide some spiritual narratives, and this task is especially important if you have memories of your godchild's family members. Get as much written down as you can.

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