I have four god-daughters- one Orthodox and three non-Orthodox. The non-Orthodox god-daughters are my niece, the daughter of my bestie, Paula and the daughter of my bestie, Dina.
Jennifer, Agatha and Meg are lovely, intelligent and creative as they enter into their preteen and teenage years respectively. I’m incredibly proud of them and I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to walk alongside with their parents and watch them grow.
When our kids were born, Dave and I chose friends and family to stand alongside and act as godparents to them. Because we were outside of a “liturgical” leaning tradition at that time the concept was unfamiliar to a few of the people we chose. But I was born Catholic so I had experience with the idea and I had a pull toward it. In some way, perhaps, I saw choosing godparents for our children as a tie to my upbringing, to what was lost, to what I still kept close but held in secret.
We started that tradition in our small circle of faith and many of the people in our community at the time followed suit. None of us really knew what it meant, this god-parenting thing. The best we could articulate at the time was that we wanted to choose people who would help to usher the kids through the faith, help them with questions, with guidance, with navigation when the skies were dark and cloudy.
There was a shift for me when I became Orthodox. Choosing a god-parent was a struggle for a number of reasons, especially having to choose my OWN guide. In the end I chose someone I knew would always pray for me, always look for the best in me and buoy that. We don’t agree on all social or political things, that was important to me. I don’t need a “yes” man. I need wisdom and that sometimes looks like a dissenting opinion. I’m thankful for my god mother.
Not long after I was chrismated, I was asked to stand up for someone at my church, a remarkably lovely and intelligent young woman. I liked her right away. I was surprised first to be asked and second to be allowed to lend my “yes” to her conversion but there it was and I agreed to it. It got me to thinking about my absentee godparenting where my other god-daughters are concerned. I worried that I don’t send birthday presents often enough, I don’t call, I don’t send prayer cards, what exactly am I meant to do anyway?
And so while driving last week my Orthodox god-daughter came into my mind. I have not seen her much lately. I haven’t called or sent prayer cards but she sprang to mind and I had this strange choice of feeling as though I don’t do enough or simply to pray and so I prayed. And then I prayed for my three non orthodox god-daughters, taking time with each of their names, letting the words fall aloud from my lips as I drove alone in the car,
Lord, Jesus Christ
I prayed for their health, for their happiness, for their relationships, for their connection to the One who made them and when I was done I let go of that “not enough” feeling. Prayer has some strength in it, weaving into places I cannot see, places that birthday presents cannot reach, places that even well-meaning phone calls cannot reach. It is the link between the now and the not yet, the tension we hold in those empty spaces of not enough, never enough and why bother. Sometimes it is all we have to offer, this keeping our loved ones in mind, holding them close a while whispering this prayer and then like a kite, letting them catch the wind.