Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Godfather, Part II

A couple of weeks ago we had some intense Eastern Orthodox infant baptism action, with your humble servant in the role of the Godfather. The infants in question were my wife's first cousins once removed, little fraternal (meaning non-identical) twin boys. Their mother is Catholic by confession, but for some reason she had her daughter christened by Orthodox tradition, and now the boys were to follow their elder sister's footsteps.

Interestingly, their father is an atheist and, on top of that, they all live in Israel -- the family moved there from Lithuania some 15 years ago, one of the reasons being the father's Jewish ancestry. I know, it's a crazy mix of cultures and traditions, but that's the odd charm of it, I think.

I'm not the most exemplary Christian in the world, but I already baptized someone when I was young, I know how honorable this whole thing is and, in support of subtle Mafioso references of this blog post, it's an offer you can't refuse -- you don't say "no" when someone asks you to be a godfather, you just accept the honor humbly and readily.

The action itself took place in the countryside. There's a Russian Orthodox farming community some 40 kms south-east of Vilnius, in the village of Mikniškės (Mikhnovo in Russian). It's a beautiful place with long history of amazing survival through the turmoils of the 20th century, with all its wars, power changes, repressions and all kinds of disasters.

As we were told, there are currently about 80 people living in the community: priests with their families and common believers of different ages, ethnicity and professions. They lead simple lives, working the fields and greenhouses, living in small, mostly wooden houses.

The church itself, where the christening took place, is rather small (originally intended to be just a family chapel), but very beautiful, with a skillfully painted interior.

After the ceremonial part, with wriggling and struggling 3-year-old kids who naturally had no idea what was going on and what that paunchy, bearded old man in funny clothes could possibly want from them, we all spread out exploring the area. The kids got all the fun as the reward for their stoic endurance.

In conclusion, here's me, the humbly proud godfather, with total number of godchildren increased from one to three in one day. How awesome is that?


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