Dear Atticus, on being showered with love

baby presents

You can tell these presents are not for us because there is pink involved.

Dear Atticus,

Today we went to a baby shower at church. This one wasn’t for you, it was for our friends whose baby is due three weeks before you. We are so thankful to have people our age who have been experiencing first-time babies with us. I must admit that I was afraid we’d be on our own because all of my friends had babies several years ago. Some of them have three already. On purpose.

These friends are having a girl. But don’t worry. We promise not to make any jokes about arranged marriages (even though they would make awesome in-laws for you). There was a girl around the same age as your dad when he was growing up, and the two moms were always scheming about marrying them off to each other. It made your dad feel really awkward, so he put his foot down on that issue. I didn’t have anything like that because I really just wanted to marry my older cousin. It was a sad day when I learned that’s frowned upon in this country.

Lots of people made jokes about me “scoping out” the baby shower so I would know what was coming for my own next month. And it’s true that I was paying more attention than I have in the past. But not just to the cupcakes and the lemonade (which were delicious). I noticed how the Celebrate Life committee was so thoughtful in their presentation of food and drink. I noticed the handmade presents and the handmade chocolates. I noticed that even though our friends haven’t been going to our church for very long and don’t know that many people, that people took time and effort to make sure they know that this baby is welcome in our community. The same things have been done for you, of course, but this was their day.

Since we shared at church that I was pregnant with you, I have thought a lot about one particular passage from Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, a passage in the chapter entitled “Why I Make Sam Go to Church.”

Sam was welcomed and prayed for at St. Andrew seven months before he was born. When I announced during worship that I was pregnant, people cheered. All these old people, raised in Bible-thumping homes in the Deep South, clapped. Even the women whose grown-up boys had been or were doing time in jails or prisons rejoiced for me. And then almost immediately they set about providing for us. They brought clothes, they brought me casseroles to keep in the freezer, they brought me assurance that this baby was going to be a part of the family.

That’s what has happened to us at church, too. People who have experienced loss and pain in their own lives were thrilled to hear about you coming. They have given us hand-me-down furniture, books, and more clothes than you can possibly wear. We have heard about what kind of food people are planning on providing after you show up. Youth group kids are constantly offering to baby-sit. Your presence in our lives has already been met with such joy and hope for your future.

Over the past few years, I have come to believe that sharing cookies at a baby shower is a holy thing, just as sacred in its own way as other rituals of the church. Pot-luck dinners, providing meals to new families and the bereaved, showing up at funerals and weddings . . . these are all part of sharing life together that I think is an important part of the church’s work. Today we had pink cupcakes for a baby who is coming soon, as a way to symbolize how we as a community are making space for that little girl. We ate cheese and crackers and told stories while her mom and dad opened presents. And I learned a little bit more about what it means to be an active participant in the kingdom of God.


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