"Are you sad about not adopting that baby?" O asked me as we were in our kids' procession through the parish hall to join the service upstairs Sunday morning. I had been wondering what this conversation would be like. O is ten, and was adopted when he was very small. Unlike any of the other kids I teach who are old enough to understand O has been very invested in our process, asking questions and offering his own little tidbits of advice, such as "maybe next time you could get a boy."
"I am sad." I said. "But I guess that just wasn't our baby."
"What happened?" he asked. "Did you see the baby and change your mind?"
"Oh no," I replied and then stopped. What would it be like for O to hear that someone who was going to give up her baby for adoption changed her mind? I decided on honesty. "The mother changed her mind."
"She can do that?" He seemed incensed. "How can she do that?"
"She is the mom," I replied, knowing that we didn't have time to really hash it out. We were almost to the stairs. "She gets to change her mind. It just turned out she could keep the baby, and before she thought she couldn't." We were there, no more time to talk. I felt both relieved and a little guilty. I didn't want to leave him hanging, but wasn't sure what more I could say.
This past Sunday was All Saints, which means there was a baptism. We had talked about baptism in Godly Play, and we got the kids upstairs in time to crowd into a good position near the font to watch the real thing. I love baptisms, for many reasons, not the least of which is the imagery of newness and re-birth. Baptism, for me, is a wildly optimistic statement of hope: hope in new life, hope in community and hope in God. It is impossible for me to witness a baptism without feeling a certain pressure in my chest, a surge of something that I call faith effusing my entire self. It doesn't make my sadness go away, but any cynicism or bitterness I am carrying doesn't stand a chance.
So I knelt among my wide-eyed little friends and watched the dangerous sacred waters of life and birth flow over a new member of our community. I watched him stand and take a candle, bend his head to receive the sign of the cross while beaming with newness and I felt the awe and amazement in my own center echoed by the little hearts beating all around me. Something clicked, and I was finally all the way home.
"Why weren't you here last Sunday?" O whispered to me as we stood in back waiting for the offertory to begin. He was going to help pass the plates. "You were in Seattle, but you weren't here." I wondered how he knew.
"I was home, being sad." I told him. His nose wrinkled up.
"What?" He didn't understand. I repeated myself.
He was silent, still, and then suddenly reached out and touched my arm.
"It's okay." I told him truthfully. "That was last week. I'm here now."