Baby on Board

I went to a baptism the other day, in a lovely old empty church. It was one of those brilliant afternoons when the sunlight coming in through the old mullioned windows looks like beams of butter.

The tall smiling priest introduced himself as the “baptismer.” “And this,” he said, “is our baptismee, in the lovely white frilly dress. His name is Vincent, as you know.”

Vincent was a couple of months old and just past the stage where infants all look like Yoda. He was just hitting his first serious growth spurt, and it seemed like it was his head that had done most of the growing so far. It was a tremendous head, and his eyes, wide open in amazement, seemed to be the size of baseballs from where I was standing in the back.

“That kid needs a zip code for his head,” said the man next to me, quietly.

The godparents hustled up to the altar and the young godfather, niggling at what was probably the first necktie he had worn since his First Communion, said “We do!” when the priest said hello, which got a general laugh.

The priest buckled down to business but he did so with such an easy grace that I was moved and proud of what a great priest can do. He managed to get in a good deal of church history and custom and belief about why we were baptizing this child, while never being in the least ponderous or pompous about it all....

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About the Author

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland.