"Churching" is the ceremony celebrated in the Orthodox Church to welcome the mother and baby into the Church. It is a simple affair where the mother and baby are met at the door of the church, prayed over and then the baby is ushered in by the priest, blessed and welcomed. You can see the roots from older thoughts in the actions. It happens 40 days after the birth - I'm guessing this has some correspondence to the mother now being "clean" and able to reenter the temple.
Yesterday, I was present for the churching of Roberto Stathakos (Peter and Angela's son). Roberto is our godchild. I feel that his birth and upcoming baptism are playing an important part in my road to motherdom. In a very small way, I'm learning more about this role of mother and what it involves.
For instance, as Godmother, I was able to assert my clout and be the lucky person who was able to hold Roberto through the service. (Note to self: consider arm exercises. Babies are heavy). He was fantastic. He smiled at me through the sermon (this probably counts as a confession that I was not listening) he didn't even cry when set down at the front of the church by himself (a part of the churching ceremony not neglect on my part). We worked out our rhythms together and he was patient with me even though I don't bounce or pat as vigorously as mom and dad do.
The churching felt like an entrance into the church for me as well. Gossip travels quickly and I'm not really interested in limiting the amount of people that will pray my child into the world. But I realized as I walked the gauntlet of smiling, knowing expressions that most people at church know that I'm pregnant. I didn't realize it, but Roberto's churching was a coming out party for me too (or "coming in" as the case may be).
The older women smiled at the sleeping child on my breast, one said slyly, "It looks good on you." A younger couple gaped anxiously when he fussed slightly. "Could I handle a child? Did I know the magic to get an infant quiet." On whole, thanks to his mother's feeding and a bit of a luck, I held a soundly sleeping baby and made my entrance well. Who knew it would start so soon? I'll keep you posted on how I handle the baptism. Andrew and I should start practicing passing the greased watermelons now.