This was our second year for baptisms by boat. Back in my day (which I realized is nearly 20 years ago!) we were baptized off of the pier in the pond, with the priest kneeling on the pier and us about to be newly-illumined holding onto the side as we tested the murky bottom of the pond. The pier fell apart, and was not replaced (I assume) because we want to restore the natural wetlands. For a few years we had a really lame solution – taking a big tub out to the side of the pond and baptizing adults there. Frankly, it was sad. Having been a pond-baptism myself, I believe in the importance of suffering through some algae to reach a state of illumination. I’m not sure the holy fathers would agree with me on this…At any rate, the solution reached last year was to launch out a priest and a subdeacon in a boat, with a rower and perhaps someone else for ballast, so the priest doesn’t end up in the water when he reaches over the side to dunk people. This makes for very entertaining watching from the shore.
I did an hour of vigil on Saturday morning, so I was hanging around the church waiting for the service, with a chance to appreciate the suddenly-warm weather and watch the boat arrive. Then we went inside to begin the liturgy, and then back out to the church steps to begin the baptism process. Since I don’t remember my own baptism clearly (being 7) I love to attend other baptisms because I feel like it rubs off. I get to relive the experience and understand the words that I didn’t quite grasp when it happened to me.
I also got to admire our bells and notice for the first time that there are icons on the two largest ones.
Then to the pond, where the water is blessed and the boat launches.
Last year was chilly, so we had great sympathy for those heading into the cold water. This year the sun was deliciously warm and lost our sympathy.
There were eleven baptisms.
Then back inside, for the bay leaves and the banging pots and pans and the chrismations, and finally the port and fruit and nuts in the church. I don’t like to take out my camera much in church, but here is a picture from after last year’s Agape vespers, when it was rainy and chilly and we didn’t tramp across the lawn.