LC Van Savage
HANNAHíS NEW GUARDIAN
Iíd never paid much attention to the Godparent deal, or if I did think about it I dissed it as being just some Dark Ages ritualistic custom all wrapped up around church and religious dogma, not really all that important. I thought it a boring old tradition no one really cared about, useless but nice, like a man removing his hat in an elevator; an empty but respectful source-forgotten practice.
I stood in Kate and Paulís kitchen a couple of evenings ago, and suddenly bam, totally out of the blue, they asked me if Iíd be their new daughter Hannahís Godmother. I was stupefied. I think I put my hand over my mouth and said "Ooooooooooooo," or something equally profound. Then I think I blubbered, then I think I hugged Kate and then I looked over at SweetHannah asleep and uncaring in her baby bouncy sling thing and was startled to see that sheíd quite suddenly changed! She went from being "granddaughter" to "granddaughter Goddaughter" and it was something all new, all unbelievable. I was utterly flabbergasted. Still am.
It was time therefore I did a little research on this Godmother gig. I did, and Iíd like to (loosely) quote from The Godparentís Handbook by Professor Ian Markham and the Rev. Giles Legood. They aver that the need for Godparenthood arose when people converted to Christianity from another religion. When adult members of a different religion (what Christians called pagans) decided they wanted to become Christian, they would request being baptized. After that happened, theyíd have to find a Christian friend or sponsor whoíd vouch for them, whoíd promise to support the convert and ensure that s/he would become faithful church members. And those folks were the Eves and Adams of all Godparents.
Then along came the 2nd century and all that moved up a notch; the practice began of having a sponsor not just for post-pagan adults, but for pre-pagan babies when they were baptized. We then move up to the 9th century when Godparenting was in full sway altho there were no limits on how many a child could have, until the 14th when it was suggested that there only be one Godparent or at the most two---one male, one female. And thatís where I come in.
It seems itís a myth that in the event of the death of both parents that the Godparents are legally bound to take over the care and feeding. Not true. Godparents have never had any legal responsibility for a Godchild although somewhere along the way Iíd read that being a Godparent meant one was responsible for a childís religious and moral upbringing should his/her parents meet a sudden end. I had much to learn.
Thus, since there is no legal link between child and Godparent, I guess I canít sweep in the door and take over Hannahís religious and moral upbringing if her parents are found wanting or if they shuffle off. And frankly Iím not so sure Iíd qualify.
But still, in spite of this research telling me what I already suspected, that Godparenting is really just a relatively empty title and that I donít have much clout now that I am one, still, Iím feeling different about this little baby girl. Thereís a new kind of light about her when I look at her; sheís just a little changed. SweetHannah, dear granddaughter, as your doting new Godmother, you and I will always have a special bond. Iíll be carefully watching over you. Personally, I donít much care about all those ideas espousing what a Godmother is or isnít. For me, Itís a combination of fairy Godmother, guardian angel and protector and even though Iím not so sure whatís expected of me as a new G-mom, it is my intention to honor this honor. Get ready, Hannah Scott Van Savage, you and I have miles to go!
LC Van Savage
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