Today is the anniversary of Tim’s baptism, so I will borrow this entry from The Diary of a Country Mother:
December 17, 2005 Morning
Another dawn is rolling slowly over the hills on a frosty morning. I sit inside with a cup of hot tea and take advantage of the morning quiet to write.
In a little while Andy and I will dress and brave the cold and make our way down the Blandford hills and along the Westfield River to the little town of Huntington for morning Mass. Our godson Mark is with us so we will have his red-haired, five-year-old liveliness along to brighten the ride. Today is the anniversary of Tim’s baptism, and we will head for church and the presence of God to offer our gratitude for his life and the gifts of grace he was given along the way. We will pass the cemetery as we drive. Another bittersweet day.
The sweetness is there, though. It is in the light of the sunrise and the remembering hearts. A large measure of that sweet peace is due to the faith we have that Tim’s story has a happy ending and an ending that has no end. Due to his learning disabilities, we spent a lot of time reading to Timothy. He loved books that had sequels; he didn’t want the story to end. When he was little we read the Little House on the Prairie books and as the years went by, the Narnia Chronicles and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. There was always more to come.
Now Tim is in the never-ending story! Eternity means always one more chapter, and the story comes from the best book ever conceived. How marvelous! And how nearly impossible for the human mind to comprehend. All the memories we have of perfect days are of days that had a natural end. The sun sets, we say our farewells, put out the lights, and we go to sleep.
Our perfect certitude that Tim now experiences eternity comes in large measure from the grace he received on the day we celebrate today. He was baptized in a beautiful sanctuary in Cranston, Rhode Island. It was dedicated to Our Lady under the title of Madonna de la Civita, a copy of a church in Italy held dear in memory by the Italian immigrants of the neighborhood. Tim was still a tiny babe, a day shy of one month old, and Andy and I had petitioned for his early baptism. We didn’t want to wait until the adoption was finalized, which could take about a year. With our eyes on eternity, we dressed Timothy Andrew in the family baptismal gown worn by his brothers at their baptisms, with his name embroidered along with theirs on the hem of the slip. We invited family and friends to witness the adoption by God of a new child of His. We dedicated this new child of eternity to the Mother of God after the baptismal rites and then we celebrated. As we do today.
At Mass this morning, when the deacon read the Gospel, we heard the genealogy of Christ. In his homily our pastor referred to the ancients’ interest in genealogy and to the resurgence in genealogical research in our own day. He pointed out, though, that the only genealogy that has any lasting value is that which is ours by virtue of our baptism. We have been adopted into the family of God and by His death and resurrection we have a right to our portion of a son’s inheritance: Eternal Life.
I sat and listened and smiled inwardly at another instance of God’s eternal watchfulness. We were here to celebrate Tim’s baptism, and we heard the words that would best console and inspire us. It was indeed another day to celebrate.
After Mass, Mark marveled at the donkey and sheep and calves in the living nativity outside of church, much as Tim would have done even at fifteen, and then we headed back past the cemetery and on to pick out our Christmas tree. There was a thick layer of ice atop the snow and our footfalls crunched as we inspected the trees and Mark helped cut the chosen one.
We remember, we celebrate and we give thanks.
Each child that is born brings to us the smile of God and invites us to recognize that life is His gift, a gift that must be accepted with love and protected with care, always and at all times . . . Baptism is adoption into the family of God, in communion with the Holy Trinity.
—Pope Benedict XVI, Sistine Chapel Baptisms
7 January 2007, Baptism of the Lord
I guess God adopted all the people just like you guys adopted me.