Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Count your blessings, name them one by one...

I was confirmed Sunday. After attending St. Michael's Episcopal Church for 5+ years, I finally succumbed. My priest has quietly been after me for a while to officially be "confirmed." Not being confirmed was my quiet rebellion - for no other purpose than just to have a way out in case I ever needed it. Is that a silly notion, or what - a way out from what, I wonder?

It's just that I didn't see the point. I had made a public profession of faith and was baptized when I was nine years old. My walk with God has always been such a vital part of my life. It really irritated me I had to be "confirmed" to become part of the Episcopal faith tradition and not just "received" as I was. Seems a bit exclusionary to me - but, that's the rule.

Let me back up a bit. I was raised in the Baptist faith and have always worn the title "Baptist" like a badge of honor. I have always respected the way I was raised and my parents provided a loving upbringing in the church for me and my sisters. By circumstances, I found myself visiting an Episcopal church with my husband and, now, this is the place we call home.

I was not confirmed at my home church because the Bishop is retiring and making rounds to all of the different parishes in the diocese and will not be returning to St. Michael's until late next year. I had to strike while the spirit was moving me (so to speak); so, Mother Pat, my priest, found a church and the bishop and sent me on my merry way to be confirmed - complete with my confirmation certificate and the big "book of life" (it's the church membership book so the Bishop could sign me in - makes me official).

I kept this whole experience pretty quiet from my home congregation and from my family. I just wanted to slip in, get it done and slip out. A quiet little ceremony - I would get up with all the other folks being confirmed, received, etc., and be about my business. It was not going to be a big deal. But, Nooooo, I learned just a few days beforehand that I was going to be the "only one" confirmed. Great - just great!

I do not like to do things in front of people. I always cry. I have labeled myself a weeper and a squeaker -  my face gets chapped, my palms sweat, my eyes leak, my nose runs and my voice raises about an octave. I am mortified when all of this happens. I am very emotional - especially regarding spiritual things - my heart just becomes so completely full it has to overflow somewhere and it just pours out.

So, now I am going to be confirmed in front of complete strangers and I am all by myself. But, wait...my friends decide to surround me with their love and support and I find myself grateful beyond all words. Abbey, Ann and HazelAnn made a special effort to drive across town to be witness to this momentous event - I kind of wondered if Mo Pat sent them to make sure I actually showed up - that wasn't the case, though - they just love me:) In addition was my husband and two of my grandsons, Tyler and Gavin.

The Bishop called Joe and me to the front, the service began - Joe presented me and then, with the Bishop's direction, I was asked to repeat my baptismal vows. The Bishop then asked me to kneel in front of him for the blessing. He placed his hands on my head and prayed over me and - Oh Boy! - here comes the tears... What a tremendous and powerful moment. Not a big deal - Ha! It was a HOLY moment of holy moments. I've had them before and this one was especially moving for me. It was a reaffirmation of where I am in my life - a crossroads. And, it was confirmation for me that I am right where I belong - finding my way in this life with God's grace, mercy and love. I was so mistaken - I was NOT confirming anything. God was confirming me! And, I felt His love!

So, I count my blessings - I'm thankful for Mother Pat, my home congregation, the loving folks at All Saints, Mother Barbara who hugged me through this moment,  my friends that love and support me and my husband and family. I'm ashamed I did not ask my Mom and sisters to join me on this day - I was selfish and hope they forgive me. I missed them! It was remarkable and they belonged there with me and would have been there without pause - I wish they had known and they could have shared that moment with me - it would have been Holy for them, too.

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