Dear ElleMA – What a wonderful thing your communication is for me. To know that another person has been there too. And something I am not sure if I said, was that my grandmother also marked a cross on my forehead and baptised me in that wonderful name. I think it was to protect me in case I died again.
Something I want to share with you because I was so moved by what you wrote, is something I put in a letter to all my children.
“My grandmother was not moved by what the doctor said, and carried me away. She bathed me in oil and water - hot and cold, and thus made me breathe. Through the journey I have made into my feelings and intuitions, however, I have an impelling sense that she did more than start me breathing. I believe she baptised me in the oil and water and put a cross upon my forehead.
Remember that she came from a generation where there were many baby deaths. She had herself given birth to thirteen – all while suffering a dropped uterus – and three had died. It was believed at the time that if a baby died without baptism it would have no soul; no right to continued existence in an afterlife. There was no priest easily available. Perhaps she would be unable to bring me to life. Perhaps she loved me enough to want to give me her best.
Whatever she did, my deepest feelings link her with the door in me that opens to the transcendent. Those intuitions also give me a sense of her as expressing a tradition that flowed through the love of women in our family from beyond recorded history. My grandmother did not simply call in an authority figure to bless my life - she blessed it with her love, with her hand in the oil and the water.
I don’t know if this means anything to you, but there is a tradition in the passing of the right to initiate into the transcendent, called apostolic succession. It means that only those touched by the transcendent; only those in whom it is alive, can pass it on by touch or eye contact to another who asks for it. My grandmother was an apostle of that love that some women and some men have alive in them. Look at her picture to see for yourself.”
It seems to me you have been blessed by that love too. So in our prayers let us touch those tiny babies who are too small to deal with life well.
Please share some of the treasure you have gathered.
With much love - Tony