This Christmas, I received a gift of countless worth: the honour of meeting my newborn nephew and soon-to-be godson, Nathaniel Roland. Not only did he arrive one week early cause he couldn’t bear the thought of missing the big New Year’s bash (like godmother like godson), but he became the reason to celebrate.
Holding the precious tininess of him brought me back 6 years to the same moment of awe when I held my first goddaughter Nellie, knowing that we were about to share a remarkably special relationship for the rest of our lives. The birth of Nathaniel renewed in me the sense of responsibility and joy that is bestowed on a godparent. It’s often so easy to fall in the wave of considering oneself a mere liturgical accessory on the day of the child’s baptism. Considering the many human and spiritual benefits that can often transpire from such a unique bond, it’s sad knowing that commitments beyond the baptismal font are often ignored. Between feeling the void of ‘what could have been’ with my own godparents and the excitement of ‘what it can be’ with Nellie and Nathaniel, I am renewed in my commitment to further explore what it means to be a faith sharer and to continue being available to both as a spiritual support, a mentor, a cheerleader and a friend.
Being far away from both of them does present a challenge when it comes to nurturing the relationships. Nevertheless, it’s certainly not impossible as I believe the greatest gift a godparent can offer is prayer, and luckily, distance is no object in that endeavour.
The challenge of coming up with creative ways of remaining available, present and active in the spiritual development of a child can be really exciting. I always love meeting other godparents and hearing stories of how they remain involved in special ways. From rediscovering the sacrament of baptism, to keeping in close touch (especially during the teen years), to treating baptismal feast days as birthdays, to being present at his/her major life events, to praying a daily rosary for his/her intentions… the inspiring examples are endless.
Keeping Hollywood depictions in mind along with being unable to know the full effects of one’s commitments, if after I die, my Godchildren see me as more than just a grantor of gifts or the possible late wife of an organized-crime boss, I’ll know I did ok. Here’s hoping….and praying.