A few weeks ago we celebrated a really special event: my youngest daughter got baptized! She is fourteen, and it was her own decision: of course she had been going to church with us her whole life, but somewhere along the way she had realised that she needed to find and live her own faith. Often I would find her reading the bible, and she peppered our minister with questions. She knew our answers to the important things in life, but now she needed to find her own ones. Ìn the end she found that nothing mattered more than God’s grace, love and forgiveness in Jesus, and that it was all hers without her having to earn it. She wanted to make it clear to everyone that this was the foundation she intended to build her life on, and getting baptized was the obvious next step.
We had watched her older siblings come to the same decision, each one in their own special way, and for me it always was a miracle like birth itself. You have found the most wonderful thing in Jesus and you try to live your faith honestly and without reservations,and of course you hope that your children will want this for their own lives, too, but there is no guarantee for that to happen. Everyone has to make their own decisions and their own mistakes, no one just inherits faith and you can never make them believe …so you pray for them and talk with them and try to answer their questions and hope that they can glimpse a bit of the kingdom of heaven in your life, and that they won’t turn their back to everything that is most precious to you and decide that faith is just humbug and perhaps alright for old people like their parents, but not for young and modern people like themselves – that they will seek honestly and that they, too, will find ..and when they do, you just feel so happy and proud and grateful and humbled and blessed at the same time.
I always tried to find a special, personal, meaningful and somewhat symbolic gift for their baptism, accompanied by a calligraphy of a verse from the bible. From earliest childhood on, my youngest daughter had been fascinated by pearls, and whenever I wore my pearl necklace, it ended up on her neck….so when I saw this sweet pearl cross pendant, I knew it would be perfect for her – and the verse had to be Matthew 13:44-45:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
So after having read the verses several times I sat down with a pencil and a sheet of paper and made a first sketch, just to try out the placement of the words:
It still needed a lot of fine-tuning, of course……
Next, I transferred the lines onto a sheet of watercolour paper, decided on the colours I wanted to use and chose a fine and a medium italic nib.Then the actual writing could begin.
I hadn’t done this in quite a while, so I was rather nervous and afraid of making a stupid mistake (like omitting a word or a letter, or smearing the wet watercolour….) , but all went smoothly so far…..
The words in the “pearl” I filled in when everything else had dried, and I chose a bright raspberry red to make them really pop.
This is certainly not perfect and I am by no means an expert at this….and I can clearly see where the telephone rang and startled me….!
On the day we had a wonderful baptismal service and afterwards a party in our garden with family and friends – an unforgettable day for all of us!