“St. Mark the Evangelist,” the canter rings out while children and their parents file to the back of the large, suburban parish.
“Pray for us,” the congregation echoes back, as we prepare to welcome a new member. A dark-haired, sleeping baby girl is about to be awoken with the waters of baptism. I recognize her parents as fellow parishioners, though I have never met them.
After the baptism has taken place, the priest carries the newly baptized, now dressed in white, to the front of the church; as he walks, he says this is the first of four times she will come down this aisle in white: the first at baptism, again at first communion, later for marriage, and, at the end, for her funeral.
This aisle, he says. Not an aisle, at a church, but this aisle, at this church—the aisle I was about to walk down for the first time, as a bride, after reluctantly becoming a parishioner where my parents had joined after I left for college.
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