Yet another, brief pause in the “Recognizing The Church” series of posts that I have been doing – and yes, another equally important event has occured!)
Two of our five children are born within two days of each other, John on the 27th and Caroline on the 29th (although separated by twelve years!) . Needless to say, cake and ice cream have been a staple in our diet over the past several weeks as we have celebrated all the August family birthdays with various relatives visiting from out of town. Seems like the entire month has been one big feast, followed by several amazing desserts each day of the week! (By the way, we made a pact at the beginning of the month: “No calorie counting in August allowed!”)
Mary and I have an un-written tradition in our family that if it is your birthday, then you get a cake and special celebration on that day all by yourself, all for you…even though you might have “shared” a party with some other family member in a “group birthday party”. So here’s to you our daughter Caroline – the “song of joy” in our family life.
“Song of Joy”, is the meaning of the name we gave to our second child, Caroline Grace Cook, born the 29th of August 1996. We chose that name because that is exactly what we felt when we heard the news about her conception: sheer and utter joy!” Caroline’s whole spirit is one of peace and beauty, and her gentle and compassionate heart captures and embodies the name we have chosen for her. We chose “Grace” for her middle name, because it is her grandmother’s name (a very awesome woman) , and ‘grace’ literally means the undeserved love and mercy of God. And when we rejoiced over her birth, all we could do was say “Thank you God for your Grace and Kindness to us.”
The only bummer about Caroline’s big day each year, is that in the Orthodox church, for centuries the faithful have always celebrated a solemn festival today in memory of the martyrdom and beheading of St. John the Baptist. And unlike other “feast” days in the cyclical calendar of the Church where “feasts” mean no fasts – and plenty of eating. The feast of St. John today is a strict fast, meaning the abstention from all animal products: meat, dairy and egg. So how can you have cake and ice cream on the 29th ever? Easy, today we celebrate her birth with song and hugs and presents, and tomorrow , we celebrate again- on the Lord’s day – a day on which we will feast twice! First in the Divine Liturgy with the Eucharist, and then later with cake, ice cream – and Caroline’s favorite meal: slow cooked barbecue ribs and sweet potatoes with butter. Yum. So there you have it. In the end, Caroline gets two celebrations! Now that is a good deal!
Caroline, we love you so much. Your spirit, heart and soul are filled with the light and love of Christ. You are now a “teenager”, whatever that means, but more than that – you are the reason for thirteen years of joy and laughter in our family,
God grant you many years Caroline! Many, many years!