M grew up Catholic (her husband is a non-practicing Episcopalian) but has since sort of renounced the church after some less-than-stellar experiences with the people involved. My own beliefs fall far, far away from any organized religion, and most particularly the one she is recovering from.
The way I understand it, a traditional Godmother is responsible for making sure the child grows up with knowledge of (or following) the parents' beliefs if the parents are - for whatever reason (usually death) - unable to do that themselves. I chose M as Katy's Godmother because we grew up with very similar family values and I knew that even if our beliefs fell on opposite sides of the fence, she would most importantly try to instill the good values and manners we were raised with in my daughter. She has proved on many occasions to be a valuable backup voice in guiding Katy through some childhood issues, so these are no small shoes to fill despite her size 5 feet!
I was curious to know why she chose me tho since she knows how I feel about Catholicism, and I'm thinking she and her husband are probably viewing my role from a more classic perspective. She replied, "You have the kind of connection with nature and God that we're looking for." (If she read my blog, she might add "Despite that previous link.") This really blew me away. For one thing, it feels like a huge confirmation of a bond to the Universe that I strive for in everything I do, but often feel like I fall short on (as if we're not all entwined with the Divine, but you get my drift). For a second thing, to have my beliefs accepted so unconditionally in such an official way (even if it's not laid out for everyone else to see) means a lot to me. It had more of an impact than she probably intended because defending myself against people who just don't get it (or dont accept it) has unfortunately become the rule, so to have someone ask me to be something important in their (and their son's) life BECAUSE of what I believe is a strangely foreign concept in my head, albeit a good one.
I asked her to expand on her statement so I was sure we were on the same page and she gave specific examples that on several of our hikes in days long past, I've taken tobacco along to offer the Earth in gratitude (a Native American ritual others have laughed at or called me "weird" for - honestly I was impressed she even remembered that as I try to keep it on the down low after so much ridicule from others); she has noted (apparently) that wild animals seem to have an affinity for my presence; and she cited my ability to remember specific trees in a forest on different outings (they are like people to me, they all look different and some personalities stand out). In her opinion (and her husband's), I suppose that adds up to the correct formula for being at a certain spiritual peace with our planet and All. Which is cool!
Anyway, I wasn't writing this to boast, I'm giving background because of the neatest thing that happened today. We were in the backyard this afternoon - M was on poop patrol and I was playing ball with the dog to tire him out. We came across a frog that was investigating (probably more like terrorizing) a major ant population way out at the end of the yard by a small gathering of trees. I haven't seen a frog in ages so I stood there talking to him for a minute, and watching him use his hind leg to fling the ants off his eyes when they got too annoying. He was really cute - about the size of my palm. Not really out of the ordinary, right? Just Mr. Toad out there being himself and a crazy girl making conversation with Nature (out loud since no one was watching).
The weird part is that much later this evening, I took the dog out again to pee and when we came back in, our amphibious buddy hopped right into the house under the dog's feet! At first I thought the dog had tracked a leaf or something in so I bent down to pick it up, but when it hopped away I realized it was my greenish-brown friend from way down in the back of the yard! Must've taken him all day to come up to the patio and wait by the door (it's a big yard).
I shooed him back outside quickly (with apologies) cuz I was afraid the dog (who is a large German Shepherd) or one of the many people now in the house (including two toddlers) would trample him if he panicked. Wildlife moves fast when spooked, which results in the humans getting spooked, then the energy level spikes out of control and bad things happen. Lucky for us tho, he turned around and hopped right back out the door in front of my hands. I regretted not following him outside tho. I mean he DID spend all that time coming up there to say hi! What a crappy way to treat a guest! I didn't mean to be rude. I wished I'd gotten a picture of him.
I poked my head back out a bit later, but it was too dark to see if he was still around. Oh well. He probably had froggier things to do. I made the joke to M's mother-in-law that maybe I should've kissed him and he would've turned into a prince. (Except I already found a prince that I like a lot - that's a whole 'nother blog tho!)
Tonight after we all retired to our respective rooms I looked up frog medicine because part of my beliefs is that when animals hop into your path like that, you need to hear their message. Jamie Sams' Medicine Cards gives a good basis to start understanding Mother Nature's missives. I knew frogs meant cleansing (they bring the rain to cleanse the Earth), but I did not remember that "...all water rites belong to Frog, including initiations by water." Well isn't that interesting since baptisms are exactly that, aren't they?
Once I read that, I realized he wasn't here to visit me, he came to bless the event. (How conceited do I feel now?! Sheesh. :( ) I can't wait to pass the message on to M tomorrow tho. Makes me feel a lot better too about participating in a ceremony I couldn't really relate to until now. I just love how things like that get explained even when I'm not asking a question directly. Divine alchemy is awesome.
I clicked on a couple more Google results about frogs (what did we EVER do without Google?!), and found more amusing tidbits that appealed to the ever-present child in me. One link offered this:
Frog is also strongly associated with magic and transformation. Beginning life as an egg, it becomes a polliwog, then a frog. It is thus a reminder to us that life is a miracle of change and transformation.
This message is particularly embodied in the story of the Frog Prince. In the Scottish version of this story, a queen who was ill could only be healed by a drink from the well of true water. When each of her three daughters tried to get this water, a monstrous frog refused to allow them access unless they agreed to marry him. The youngest daughter agreed and was able to heal her mother. She also later discovered that her unattractive bridegroom was actually a prince.
M's husband's family has strong Scottish genes, as do I, so this really caught my attention. I'm familiar with the tale of the Frog Prince, but I didn't know it was of Scottish origin. (And of course everything we read on the Interwebs is absolutely the truth! haha) I did another Google search to see if I could find the whole story in its native format, but got sidetracked by the Wikipedia entry about it. From that entry I clicked another link that explains that the Brothers Grimm adapted their frog fable from "The Well of the World's End," which, when you read what THAT is by clicking here, you'll realize is actually the origins of the Cinderella story (and what is my most favoritest fairy tale evar? You got THAT right!).
I thought the relation to Cinderella was even quirkier because before I came to Texas, I asked M what would be an appropriate gift for her son on this occasion. She suggested a biblical story. I was like "HAVE YOU MET ME? Where would I find such a thing? In the fiction section of Barnes & Noble?" I could hear her amused sigh two states away, and she said she was sure I could find something, and when I did, would I please write a dedication in the front. I already knew what to get actually - Neale Donald Walsh wrote a great book called The Little Soul and the Sun, which bridges the gap between our beliefs quite nicely, so that's what I bought. On the title page I wrote a brief note and signed it "Your Fairy Godmother" because by jove, I've always been partial to the Fey, and if I get to be a Godmother I want to be a magical one! (And HELLO... favoritest story includes Godmother of the Fairy sort!)
So what is the moral of this lengthy yarn? For one, everything is tied together no matter what we believe, and sometimes even more so BECAUSE of what we believe. For two, everything eventually comes full circle. And really, how awesome is the perspective when you make it all the way around the entire twisted sphere and a bigger picture comes into focus?
Let's just hope I don't accidentally turn anyone into a toad tomorrow at the ceremony.