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America, January 14, 2009

Hanalei Baptisms - From Water to Ice

Both were cold and bracing for the baby

hanalei at birth
Hanalei's first ocean dip
hanalei today
She doesn't like snow
Looking out into the deep Pacific blue as Amy and I arrived at Moss Landing on Monterey Bay, I had only one thought - its time to baptize Hanalei. My loving wife was not trilled with my idea, as the Pacific is quite cold in January with only blubber-encased mammals willing to swim in its frigid waters.

Yet with the warmth of the Santa Anna winds and a cloudless sky, I knew it was time to connect our daughter with her birth name. The very waters at our feet in California also swirl through Hanalei Bay on Kauai. An oceanic baptism would also connect her with my own baptism 35 years before. As my mom says:

"Did you know that Carlos and I "baptized" Wayan in the Indian Ocean when he was about 3 weeks old in Bali? We just put his toes in the water and then a few drops on his head and chest, and blessed him with our love."
I thought I might do more. I felt the need to go revival Baptist on Hanalei, and have a full dunking to anoint her properly. So it was with this adventure in mind, my coworker Eric's help, and Amy's deep misgivings that the Inveneo team and we approached the shore.

Yet the second that Eric and I entered the water, when its icy grip held our legs then waists, I realized that a full dunking was nuts, even for adults. So with a few drops of Pacific in my hands, I touched Hanalei's head and rubbed her chest, brining her full circle from name to place, father to daughter.

A week later, Washington DC had its first snowfall of the winter. A good dusting of snow with a layer of ice over the top. Again I thought it time for baptism. This time, it was less of a circle and more an experience. I want my daughter to enjoy new sensations, new travels, as much as her father. So it was into the snow we go.

With feet bare, I introduced my daughter to the touch of winter. Quite different to the Pacific, she responded just as her mother expected - with a mighty cry.

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I think Hanalei is a water mermaid not an ice princess.

She is so beautiful and I love the baptism! We baptized Henry in a similar fashion. We held a family ceremony down by the lake we go to every summer in Minnesota. It's a lake my husband's family has spent every summer at for his whole life. We found a Methodist minister who was willing to do the ceremony our way with lake water down by the shore. So now, my husband is Catholic, I am Episcopalian, and our son is Methodist. :)

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