We had the best April Fools day ever. The lesbians baptized their baby in the Catholic church.
No really. We did.
Before Cricket (I almost said his name! I'll post the winners of the contest soon!)... Anyway, starting again: Before Cricket was born, and even before he was a reality, I thought about religion and his life. I feel like my own faith has gotten me through some bad times. Organized religion isn't for everyone, and I can understand that. My own Partner goes to church with me I think just to support my need for it. She's not sure what she makes of the whole thing.
I felt pretty embraced by the church until my relationship with Partner. Then things got more sticky, as you can imagine. If it was only ever going to be Partner and me, I would have had less questions about what to do. I would have stayed in the Catholic church without ever reaching out to other faiths. I would have believed my role was to stand up and make noise. Agitate for change from within, so to speak. I don't want to leave the Catholic church. The rituals have meaning for me. But I knew we wanted to start this family, so I thought again.
Was it fair to have children raised in a faith that didn't recognize the legitimacy of their family? Nope. Absolutely not. After all, one of the things that my faith taught me was about the unconditional love of God. Wasn't this just the church putting conditions on it? Does God love our family less because we are two women raising children together than he loves the family of one man and one woman? I know the answer to that in my heart, and it's a rousing no. God loves us all. And my family is so right, I just know that God smiles on us, and often. Yet the church's very position did seem answer that question with an affirmative, so I questioned.
I went to a priest and talked about it and his answer was that the church was schizophrenic on the issue. He encouraged me to explore the Episcopal church, but said he'd regret if I left the Catholic church. I listened to his words, but I didn't really hear them. We kept going to the Catholic church, at least once a month when I was scheduled to do the readings, and we went to the Episcopal church too. I liked it there. I liked the people. The smallness of the congregation
compared to our large Catholic church was both refreshing and scary. If we weren't in church, people knew it. Whereas we could be gone for a year from the Catholic church we attend and I don't know that anyone would know. Yet I never felt the same after leaving the Episcopal service as I did after leaving mass. Even the services are largely the same, I just never quite got "there" after an Episcopal service. More and more we were Catholic. I haven't been to our Episcopal church in months, although we plan on attending the Easter Vigil there.
I ran into an acquaintance
from this Episcopal church when I went to get my hair cut last week. She remarked on our absence, and I admitted to her that we had been increasingly Catholic, and I spilled the beans about Cricket's impending baptism. She said that she though being Catholic was a lot like being Jewish, almost a cultural thing and hard to fully ever walk away from. I get that.
When I called the Deacon about the pre
-meeting for the baptism, he said I should bring my husband along. I was surprised by this because I assumed he knew I was a lesbian. I had a letter published in the Detroit Free Press when the state had the divisive proposal two
on the ballot and I also very publicly walked out of the church when the Bishop sent his taped message to churches urging us to vote yes on this proposal. So taken aback, I said to him in one rushed breath, "There's no husband, but I have a partner and she's a woman; is that going to be a problem?"
"Not for me," the very conservative Deacon responded.
And it wasn't. Frankly, it hasn't been a problem for anyone we've talked to in the RC. The nun who runs the music at the church brought (only) us a book for Cricket about his baptism. It's a beautiful book. The pastor was welcoming to us as we came into church for the big day. It seems that the priest I talked to wasn't just spouting platitudes, but he was actually telling it like it is. He said there'd
be some people who had a problem with it, but only because they'd be concerned about me. But I haven't run into any of those people yet, and if I did I'd try to educate them. More and more I wonder if it is our particular mission to be open and out in the Catholic church. Often Partner and I talk about how we feel like we are ambassadors for gay and lesbian people.
I was raised in an upper-middle class neighborhood-- or rather the whole city was that way. Conservative politics are de rigueur, and the whole place is rather homogeneous. There was one African American at my school. Thus this is the pool from which my parents have their friends, and when we had our commitment ceremony, many of them attended. I hazard to guess it was probably the first lesbian wedding many had attended, and I further that by supposing that it will be the last too. Not only did these friends come, but they really celebrated with us. At our baby shower, I told a few of these parental friends about the draconian adoption laws in our glorious state. Both of the women I was talking to had adopted their own children and both were appalled. Now one of them sends me clippings from her lawyers office detailing attempts to allow second parent adoption. They dote on the Cricket. I think in our own way we've changed some peoples minds about gay people.
We do this by just being who we are. I'm going to be honest here and note that I think it helps that we're perceived to be young, healthy, and in a rising middle class ourselves. Neither of us gets too strident in mixed (political-parental friend) company. We're both relatively cheerful and intelligent people. Our style is best described as preppy. I can talk about my crystal pattern. And that seems normal to these parental friends. Because we look like and act like their own children, our message about the normalcy of gay and lesbian relationships does get heard.
That's not to say that this is the only way to agitate for change. Or that everything about our relationship with the Catholic church is hunky dory. For example, when meeting with the Deacon, he commented on how certain nuns protested at the Pope's visit (John Paul, that is) and his position on women in the church. The Deacon was very critical and said they did more harm than good and I disagreed with him vehemently. I said that sometimes people did need to get up and rock the boat. That there were many ways to raise consciousness. I'm not sure he agreed with me at all, but then again, wasn't I raising his consciousness at that very moment by sitting his office with my partner discussing baptism for our son?
I'm more loose about the whole thing now. I think we've made a commitment to raise Cricket in the Catholic church, but I'm open to other faith experiences too. We'll take him to the Episcopal church also and let him make up his mind when the time comes as to how he'll choose to practice, or not practice, religion. I'll be honest with him about the shortcomings of the Catholic faith and the Episcopal and others for that matter.
Yet all in all, I can say the day was wonderful. He looked elegant in a baptismal gown that is over 150 years old, worn by many members of his family. He slept when the poured the water over his head. His family-- my family, Partner's family-- all came together on a beautiful sunny day to celebrate the role of God in his life. And ultimately that is what mattered.
Labels: Cricket, Faith