Nearly 2 years ago to the day, Nathan and I had meal with our closest friends in Durham to celebrate our engagement. We booked a table at Pizza Express and we were delighted when six of our friends came to munch some delicious carbs and share a bottle or two.
We were even more delighted when two of those friends, brand new parents of just a week, came into the restaurant with a shiny new pram which held a little bundle of loveliness. Week old baby Abbie took our party of 8 to 9.
She sat in her pram at the bottom of the table and I couldn’t wait for a closer look. To be honest, I didn’t much enjoy the meal. We were sat near the kitchens and I spent the whole time being terrified that some clumsy waiter would drop a pile of plates on this little one. I couldn’t stop worrying. Out of the corner of my eye I watched as each member of staff rushed past, making sure that they were keeping well clear of the pram.
I was so relieved when, after our food was cleared, she was okay and I got to have my first cuddle. Nathan looked on and we both were mesmerized.
Soon after, we started going to visit Abbie, her Mum, Ashleigh and her Dad, Josh, every Wednesday afternoon. We’d bring muffins, have cuddles and take a much needed break from college for a couple of hours. We would also see each other on Tuesdays for communion and we soon had a little routine of regular meet-ups.
To my absolute surprise, in the January I was asked to be Godmother to Abbie! Nathan was to be Godfather too and we were both simply thrilled! We would have loved and cared for and taken a huge interest in this little girl no matter what, but it was such an honour to be asked to be a godparent.
Our Goddaughter is such a tremendous delight. If either of us is sad, down or stressed, all it takes is a mention of Abbie to make us smile. We no longer live a 20 minute walk away from her and her family, but we’re an hour or so in the car and it makes the times when we do see each other even more special.
We recently spent at lot of time together at Greenbelt Festival (see above picture) and on holiday together in the Lake District. She is such a joy, and we love to see her growing up and flourishing. We take her to the park, read books, make her laugh, pull her round in her wagon or pushchair, play games and Nathan even answers to her when she calls him ‘Stinky!’
But above all, as Godparents, our primary duty to this little girl is to pray for her. At her baptism, at her christening, we promised to help her grow up in the Christian faith until she is old enough to follow Jesus for herself. Being a Godparent is not simply being called ‘Auntie’ or ‘Uncle’ and turning up with presents occasionally. It’s not just being singled out as an especially good friend of the family. It’s about prayer.
Abbie’s Mum, Ashleigh, is really good at praying with her daughter. The fact that Abbie can say ‘Amen’ when she holds her hands together in prayer is very little to do with us as Godparents! Ash comes up with creative ways for her toddler to pray and learn about God which shows such dedication to Abbie’s spirituality and walk with God. (You can read Ash’s blog, Believing Healthy, here).
Godparenting is great fun, but there’s also spiritual responsibility involved. One of my favourite moments in the Lake District last month was when Abbie walked up to Nathan and said ‘Stinky, bless!’ because she hadn’t been to church for her usual blessing that week. It helps that Nathan is a Priest and can give her that blessing when she asks, but there was something incredibly beautiful about him crouching down and praying with her. Any Godparent can pray their Godchild. After the prayer, Abbie gave Nathan a hug, turned round and headed back into the living room to play with her toys.
One of the best things about being a Godparent is that we get all the joy of knowing this little one without any of the hard work. When she cries or needs a change we can just hand her back! But we are in this for the long haul. We’ll help where we can and we’ll always be keen to see her. But whether we live in the next door parish or the other side of the world, our duty as Godparents will be to pray for her, no matter what comes.
Many thanks to Ashleigh for allowing me to use a couple of her beautiful photos.