Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Spiritual Parenthood

My husband and I were asked, three weeks ago, to be godparents for a baby who is expected to make his or her appearance in the world in February.  We are honored for a number of reasons: firstly, of course, anyone should be honored to be asked to be godparents for a child, because it's very important; secondly, even though we have lots of Catholic friends with young children, it's the first time we've been asked; finally, we've only known the parents for about six months.  It's an incredible sign of trust (and also, unfortunately, a sign about the unsuitability of their family for that role and the problem of being recently returned to the practice of the faith) to ask us to be a part of their child's life for...forever, pretty much.

Then, this morning, came a request from another friend.  Each of her four children has a different set of godparents.  Three sets are great.  But their five-year-old son's godparents are now agnostics, and she's concerned because the kid needs prayer.  Even the best-intentioned five-year-old boy can get into amazing scrapes, leaving even the most disciplined of parents bewildered.  She has asked us to be unofficial godparents for her boy.  My first thought was, "Of course!"  My husband and I love the whole family dearly, and to be part of the family in that way is very special.

But, then, the heartache of my own infertility, which has been at the forefront of my thoughts so often lately as my four closest married friends here are all pregnant, crept to the fore again.  Two requests to be spiritual parents in less than a month?  Is God sending me a sign that spiritual motherhood is to be my lot?

Maybe I'm reading too much into this.  Maybe it's just a sign that we're making new friends as adults for the first time (as opposed to college and high school friends) and taking on the roles that come with being adult Catholics. Our practice of the faith, because of our roles as church musicians (and my husband's role as parish employee), is very public, and our new friends can see us there, every Sunday, at prayer, and it's easy for them to discuss religious matters with us.  There's no dancing around, trying to figure out whether we are faithful Catholics and think with the mind of the Church--we're just out there, for all to see.  And some of our friends like what they see, enough to want us to be spiritual guides for their children.  It's very flattering, and we are ready to take that responsibility seriously.  Still, I can't help but wonder whether we will ever have the (sometimes difficult) job of choosing godparents for a child of our own.

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