Yesterday we were very kindly invited to join the celebrations of a local family at the baptism of their fifth child (a dear little six month old called Ruby). Baptism at a local church and afterwards at their village hall.
We arrived at the village where the church was way too early. As usual! So had plenty of time to find somewhere to park and sit in a cafe watching the world go by with a coffee. This village is only half an hour away from ours but has a completely different feel to it. The stone is grey rather than our rich yellow and there was a real buzz about the place. The square was full of cars with lots of comings and goings and the cafe we chose was full of young people. There were a lot of tourists about but these looked like young working people enjoying meeting up regularly on a Sunday morning after a leisurely lie in. I love this aspect of french life. It is so civilised.
After a coffee and a request as to the exact whereabouts of the church we wandered over and slipped into the back of a huge ancient church full of people ending mass. I have been in a lot of these since we have been here but not when it was full with all ages of people and children wandering about. The mass ended and we sat still while the congregation filed out with lots of chat and greeting.
The family we had come to join originally came from Burma so it was easy to pick them out in this very white french community! We know the parents of the child but not the father's (it's he who has the Burmese mother) brother or sister who between them had another 7 children. And then there were their friends who had young children too so there were small children everywhere.
The service was conducted by an enormous, and very black, priest with a lovely deep resonating voice. It was a lovely picture when he took the tiny little girl in his arms. All the children were watching closely but it obviously wasn't anything new to them, they'd all been to christenings/first communions often and were quite happy to sit quietly.
The thing that has stayed with me most is the idea that this tiny delightful little scrap of a six month old that gazed around wide eyed over her father's shoulder could possibly be full of sin that needed casting out.
Loved the occasion, delighted to be there but it's not an idea that sits easily with me.