Dear Genevieve,

On Christmas Eve, in between hours of cooking and the big pageant, I took a break from my work to give you and your sister baths. We have our system down pat: you wait patiently in your chair while I start with Juliette, and then we set your baby tub on the bathtub so she can keep you company while I bathe you. I didn't used to like giving baths, and I still sometimes complain about the ache that settles in my lower back when I do. But I treasure washing you up. You gaze at me while I scrub and sing and try to make you smile. You are such a gazer, your big brown eyes all calm and bemused.

During your Christmas Eve bath, as I squeezed the warm water over your belly, I thought about how I was going to baptize you the next morning. I thought about how natural it seems for the same one who birthed you and nurses you and listens for your breath and immerses you in soapy water would be the same one to touch your forehead and speak words of blessing.

But then, everything about you seems natural. I told your father the other day that my love for you is uncomplicated, while my love for your sister was complicated when she was a baby. Don't you (or Juliette) ever think one was better or worse than the other; your Mama's love is fierce and good with or without complications. The fact of the matter is this: you were born into a family with a redemption story, and you showed up after the hard part. We will try our best to let you become who you are to become, but for now we can't help but think of you as our sweet and fairly unexpected gift. You delight us, and we all love taking turns delighting you.

On Christmas morning, we dressed you in a silver brocade dress that was just enough alike - and just enough different - from your sister's gold brocade dress. You won't remember anything about your first Christmas, but you will have a few snapshots, and stories from your sister, and a keepsake dress. And you will have a whole community of faith reminding you of your baptism, and teaching you what it means.

Genevieve Laverne, I baptized you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I called you what you are: a child of God, disciple of Christ, and member of the church. I kissed your cheek and set you back in the arms of your father, filled with wonder and humility and grace upon grace.

Your life is now the subject of a sacred covenant, one you will have an opportunity to confirm when you are older. I can tell you from personal experience that it is always a gift and sometimes a challenge to live in sacred covenant, and that I wouldn't want it any other way.

Genevieve Laverne, my daughter, my sister in Christ.


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