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Last Sunday, Will and I stood on the beach with our pant legs rolled up, snuggling Charlie in a blanket against the cold of a misty gray day. Our friends and family were huddled together in a horseshoe, braving the damp day on the beach to help us finally, ceremoniously, welcome Charlie into the world—to celebrate and honor the gift of our baby boy.
I think I've mentioned before that Will and I are not necessarily very religious people. It's not that we don't believe in a higher power—I think we both do. Especially when we look at our babies. We both believe in something far greater than ourselves; it's just that it's all so far beyond the scope of our senses and limited comprehension, that we really can't say what shape or form any belief we have might take. But, we both feel a spiritual connection—to each other, to our children, to the community of friends and family around us, and to nature—especially to our home here, on Cape Ann. Despite the fact that we don't necessarily subscribe to an organized religion, we wanted to do something to celebrate and recognize the fact that Charlie is now a part of our lives—a part of our family; a part of our community; a part of us. And, we wanted to celebrate Charlie as the unique individual that he is.Just as we stood in front of our friends and family on our wedding day to pledge our love and commitment to each other, we wanted to have a ceremony to affirm our love and commitment to Charlie as his parents. We wanted to ask our circle of extended family and friends to be part of Charlie's life—to ask each person to be a support to him through the years—as a mentor, a coach, a helping hand, a patient listener, a friend. We wanted to take time to remember the people in Charlie's life who can't be here with him, but who we know are always with him in spirit—Charlie's Grandpa Joe, Charlie's Great-Grandpa Charlie, and his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who live so far away.
We also stood in silence for our sister-in-law's father, who passed away the night before Charlie's blessing—a poignant reminder of what a gift each life is, and of the circle of life that binds us all together—at its ending, and at its very beginning.
At the end of the ceremony, we slipped off Charlie's socks and dipped his toes in the ocean, while Will read a poem aloud:
Sunday afternoon, we drift toward the sea, Spellbound by a choir of cormorants, gathered on the rocks, We find a quiet cove up the road. There, with family and friends close in spirit, we conceive a private ceremony, slip off your white socks, kiss your diamond face, plunge your crossed feet into an ocean calling your name. You savor the scent of salt, the depth of the cold, and catch a glimpse of gulls praising the sky. -- Author Unknown
All the while, a lone man walked along the beach, stopping every now and then to etch an intricate design into the sand with a long stick. He slowly meandered his way to the end of the beach and disappeared. Behind him, he left an angel in the sand.
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Read the next entry: 10.22.07: Matters of Life and Death