My niece turned 3 on Monday. I called that evening to say happy birthday and ask how Maya's big day had been. My sister told me how the day began...
"Maya, how old are you?" my sister asked. Maya answered in her little girl lisp, "I'm going to be 3 soon!" "When will you be 3?" my sister wondered. "On my birthday," Maya replied (as she has these last many months). "Well, today is your birthday so now you're 3." Maya was silent as she comprehended this fact, before a look of joy slowly spread across her face.
Not only am I lucky enough to be Maya's auntie; I'm also her godmother. We even share the same middle name. I remember when my sister called to tell me they were naming her Maya Grace. To my discredit, my initial reaction was a belligerent "Wait a minute! That's MY name!!"
But then I met Maya, when she was still only a few days old, and my heart melted into a pool of love for her. I ached with the honor of being her godmother, of sharing between us such a special name. I wanted to do it all just right, including giving her her first piece of jewelry: a tiny silver baby bracelet hand engraved with her name.
About six months later the family gathered together again for Maya's baby blessing. My sister and brother-in-law created a special part in the ceremony for Maya's godparents to speak, forcing me to consider what that truly meant. Our family isn't religious so I knew being asked wasn't just a formality.
I'd been charged with taking an extra special interest in Maya's life, with helping guide her through the terrain ahead, offering what wisdom and experience I have, or hopefully will have gained by the time she needs it. In the end, I decided to write Maya a letter for her blessing ceremony - my heartfelt wish and humble pledge.
My Dearest Maya Grace,
It is a privilege to share the bond of our name, Grace, and the special meaning it carries. May Grace symbolize your connection to your family, to all the ancestors that have gone before you. May you know the Grace of being alive, of relationship and mystery and discovery, of challenge and accomplishment and change.
Most of all, Dear One, may you dwell in Grace. May you feel the Grace of God moving in you and through you, and may your long years on this earth be filled with that presence. Blessings upon you, sweet one, and blessed are we that will walk this journey with you. As your Godmother I will always be here beside you, to help you know Grace in every way that I can.
With all my love,
Today Maya is 3, and tomorrow she'll be 16. With grace the road ahead of her will be long and winding, filled with the joys and sorrows of a full and vibrant life. For now I'm all grown up and fascinating to her, but soon enough I'll be the one following her life with eager interest. And that seems about the best Grace I could ask for.