We decided to have a traditional Orthodox wedding. I would learn a lot of traditions from this. An American wedding is very different, so everything I ever thought about how I would need to plan a wedding would be a lot different. One thing I needed to do to have an Orthodox wedding was to become Orthodox. So, I would have a baptism to convert.
First, I had to talk to the priest about my current religion and why I wanted to convert. The priest spoke no English, so Ema translated the general ideas for us. It was important that I understood that I was making a serious commitment and that I shouldn?t go back to the Baptist church after converting. I should go to the Orthodox Church regularly and practice.
I don?t have a big interest in learning all about the Orthodox religion, but I do find its symbolism and icons fascinating.
I only understood the basic ideas of what the priest was saying when he baptized me. It was a long time to stand on my feet. It would have been different if I were a baby, the age that most orthodox people are baptized. This was my second baptism, because at 13 years old I was baptized in the Baptist church.
The priest read to me and those gathered around me to witness my baptism many things from his book, some of it was verses and quotes from the bible, other things were explanation of the ritual and the symbols. I didn?t understand hardly anything that he was saying. At this point I had only been in Romania for two months. I had to take of my shirt and when I did, the priest pointed out that I was wearing an anchor necklace. Actually, the necklace was Thor?s hammer, the god of lightning from Norse mythology and it had the name of this hammer, Miljnor, written in ancient Nordic symbols. It is a very pagan piece of jewelry. It?s interesting that I lost my interest in wearing this symbol after the baptism.
Anyway, the priest put blessed water from a copper basin on my head, and put crosses on me with oil. There were many times I had to follow along and cross myself. The most interesting part of the baptism to me was when the priest took me around the church and showed me different icons and explained them to me (even though I didn?t understand) and I had to kiss them. Then he took me through a hidden door behind the altar which was an inner altar, or the ?real altar,? where a candle was lit and I had to kiss a crucifix.
Later, we would baptize our baby, Maya, and I would see the whole ceremony from a different point-of-view.