‘Do you like my sparkly shoes’?
A perfectly reasonable question in most circumstances. But when the question is in church, when all else is quiet and your three year old asks this question directly to Canon Sam it’s just a little bit inappropriate, perhaps.
Or maybe not. It was after all her special day. And that of her two sisters. It was the day when they were all getting baptised, together, as a kind of job lot type affair. So if she wanted to direct the conversation towards her shoes, she was probably entitled. God wouldn’t mind I’m sure.
It certainly brought a smile to everyone’s faces too. It relaxed our small gathering, broke the ice and made people feel comfortable. Church can be a bit daunting to people who don’t attend regularly I suppose. We were in quite a grand church too – the very church I became a wife 19 months before. Leeds Minster was such a special and amazing place to get married and when we found out we could also get our girls christened there we were really chuffed.
The Christening was such a relaxed service and Canon Sam had the perfect approach. He managed to capture the attention of my three girls for the entire service. They sat very politely, listening intently to the very grown-up words that were being said and they hung on his every word. He made everything he said seem relevant to them and did his best to explain what it all meant. He poured water on their foreheads and they graciously accepted! He lit a candle for each of them and they stared in awe and wonder. He said some very special prayers and as I watched their angelic little faces I felt so very proud.
I don’t know why we’ve not got round to getting them all baptised sooner. If you want an example of how we never seem to get round to doing anything this is a pretty good one. It’s only taken us FIVE YEARS to get Florence baptised. Most people manage to get round to sorting it out within the first 6 months. Sleep deprivation and all. I guess having twins was our excuse.
For a while we did think about going down the catholic route. Coming from an Irish catholic family and having a catholic education until I was 18, I did feel a bit of pressure to replicate this for my children – but also I’ve not been a practising catholic for such a long time (a major fail I’d say was having the children out of wedlock!!?) so it just doesn’t seem as relevant to me anymore.
I vividly remember being a slightly spotty 13 year old, sitting in school assembly and waiting to go up to confession. I recall sitting and worrying what I should say. I didn’t want to confess to anything really bad (not that I had done anything THAT bad), so was trying to think of something appropriate to say. “I didn’t eat my carrots at tea last night and I actually hid them under my mash”…Hmm, that’ll do.
I did actually used to pray a lot when I was younger. At night I’d always say an ‘Our Father’ before I went to sleep. Usually I’d talk about something I was worried about or ask for something to happen or for people to be healthy and safe. I don’t tend to pray as much anymore but even though I don’t go to church much anymore I still feel I can pray and be close to God when I need to be and it makes me feel safe. I hope our children can feel a connection like that too.
We did start attending our local catholic church when the twins were tiny babies. Armed with plenty of milk, raisons and various HappyLand figures we dutifully spent our Sunday mornings at church. Though I’m afraid it didn’t last, we were beaten by our circumstance and just found it too difficult to keep up to the commitment.
So for many reasons we opted to leave the crazy world of Catholicism behind (I’m allowed to say that), time ticked on a bit and we pondered some more about the best way forward. We finally decided to get married in a Anglican church and get our children baptised there too.
It was really nice to be back in the iconic church again to introduce our three girls to the world of God.
And so after holy water and candles galore the lovely service concluded and we were all ready for a different kind of holy water. So we strolled across to the splendidly located and aptly named Lamb and Flag. The lamb, according to the Gospel of John – ‘taketh away the sins of the world”. I’m not sure there are enough lambs for that job but anyway – the building used to be a public house in the 19th century and has been restored to its former glory. Now trendy types frequent this lovely little pub, so steeped in history it stands in the shadows of Leeds Minster and serves amazing food and great beer!
We had hired the snug at the back of the pub which had patio doors out on the the courtyard. I’d decorated the room with bunting, fairy lights and my new Lightbox and had made some cute little ‘busy bags’ for the children to keep them entertained. We got our yummy cake from And The dish Ran Away With The Spoon which is a fab little cafe in West Didsbury, Manchester.
Gin and tonic’s were flowing, roast dinners all round (one of the best I’ve eaten) and everyone seemed happy. It was a perfect day – a little late but we got there in the end. It was memorable. Sparkly shoes and all.