22 July 2013

the water and oil of baptism

Although Little Sister initially ignored the Baptism materials in favor of the Holy Family and World Communion, she eventually went back to the attic and turned her attention to the Baptism doll. I accompanied her to a sink/basin where she was able to fill our little jug with water. She carried that through to where the materials were, and poured some out into the bowl. She then picked up the doll by its feet and prepared to dip it head-first into the bowl of water!

Never interfere?? All my training fell by the wayside. I gasped in horror and insisted, "No no no! We take water in our hand and put it on the baby's head that way."

Little Sister was much intrigued by the bottle of oil and asked what it was for. I used a little to make the sign of the cross on her forehead, and she did the same for me. But what is this [the bottle of oil] for? It struck me that I make little use of it in the lesson, since our Finnish Lutheran priests don't use any oil in a baptism. I said that we use it in the lesson to help us think about the Holy Spirit, and wound up presenting a portion of the Baptism lesson to her, the part that introduces the Trinity (The Holy Spirit ... is invisible, like the scent of this oil. It is invisible, but still there), and she went completely silent and gave it her full attention. 

We didn't have the Christ candle out, but I just indicated
what I would have done if we'd had one, and that seemed fine.

Afterwards she continued to wonder about the oil, and as we talked I realized and told her that her baptism had been a little different from her brother's in that she had been anointed with oil and he had not. Neither of her parents had been anointed at baptism; nor had I. Later at supper I recalled (and said) that Vandriver had, like her, been baptised by an Anglican priest. Both she and Vandriver had been anointed with oil at their baptisms.

Too late, it now occurs to me that I could have given her the words of a Finnish priest, Mika K T Pajunen, who said to us in a sermon, We are confirmed into a specific denomination, but we are baptized into the Christian Church. Whether our baptism includes anointing with oil, full immersion, the use of a scallop shell or not, we belong to the one body of Christ.


  1. I really love that quotation from Mika K T Pajunen! Recently I've been helping a good friend with computer skills. Your "never interfere" came to mind constantly - I keep reminding myself of a Montessori thought from somewhere that a good teacher must sit on his/her hands and let the child do the work. It's SO hard!

    Thanks for your words!

    1. It might be paradoxical, but I find it harder not to interfere when the learner is an adult!

  2. Your environment is so sweet and delightful. Lovely in every way.

    1. Why thank you, Carolyn! What an encouraging thing for me to read.


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