A letter to my goddaughter on the occasion of her First Communion
PETALUMA, Calif., June 19, 2017 – Dear Isabella,
What a joy it was to watch you taking part in your first Holy Communion. Everything about the event – the music, the prayers, the cheerful priest, you in your pretty white dress – all of it made for a truly memorable day.
I remember seeing you the night you were born, attending most of your eight birthday parties and showing up for a handful of your soccer games and school productions. But for some reason, seeing you walk down the aisle of St. Robert’s Church stands out as the most special moment of them all. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this was the first time since your christening that you and I had taken part as fellow Christians in such a sacred ceremony.
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Although I’d never attended an event like that before, communion is something I celebrate every day, just not in the same way. Like you, perhaps, I see communion as a kind of promise I make to do my best to be just as good, just as generous, just as loving as Jesus – only without the bread and wine.
Being loving is something I’ve noticed comes naturally to you. The apostle John once said, “We love because [God] first loved us” (I John 4:19). This means that your capacity to love and to feel loved comes directly from your divine Father-Mother, that it can’t be taken away from you and that it will never end.
One of my favorite reminders of this is a song I often sing in church. It’s called “Communion Hymn,” written by Mary Baker Eddy. The first verse goes like this:
Saw ye my Saviour? Heard ye the glad sound?
Felt ye the power of the Word?
’Twas the Truth that made us free,
And was found by you and me
In the life and the love of our Lord.
Whenever I sing this, I think about the many times that the “Truth” that Jesus’ life exemplified has freed me or someone I know from some difficult situation. In fact, I can remember a time when I was just about your age when I could really feel this Truth (which, I learned in Sunday school, is another name for God) coming to my rescue.
Some friends and I were out riding our bikes. As I was passing through a busy intersection, I was hit by a car. Although there were no serious injuries, I was still pretty shaken up.
This was a long time ago, so I don’t remember all the details. However, I do remember my parents telling me how much God loved me and how I could never be outside His/Her care. These weren’t just nice words; they were powerful words. So powerful, in fact, that as soon as I heard them, I started to feel better. Before long, I was back on my bike, this time making sure to look both ways before I crossed any intersections.
Getting back to St. Robert’s…
The night before your big day, just before going to bed, I found myself humming the “Communion Hymn.” The last verse reads:
Strongest deliverer, friend of the friendless,
Life of all being divine:
Thou the Christ, and not the creed;
Thou the Truth in thought and deed;
Thou the water, the bread, and the wine.
When I think of bread in its deeper meaning, I think of being fed by God with comforting truths that heal, like that time I was hit by a car. When I think of wine, I think of being inspired to love God even more and, as it says in the Bible, to love my neighbor as myself (see Matt. 22:35-39). And on the night before your first communion, I thought of you being fed with these very same truths, being inspired by this very same love, throughout your life.
Maybe that’s what made the next day so special. It was like one big reminder that you would always be cared for by God. Even now the thought of this makes me so happy.
Your nino (godfather)
Eric Nelson writes about the link between consciousness and health from his perspective as a practitioner of Christian Science. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. Follow him on Twitter @norcalcs. Continue the conversation on Facebook.