Friday, June 10, 2011

Bitter Baptism

I am overwhelmed -- O my God --
eyes wide open, holding my breath
watching the flood waters churn over & around me
waiting, desperately hoping, for the waters to recede

And as I wait in the drowning, I wonder if this is the meaning of baptism:
to experience the overwhelming, the dying, the uncontrollable chaos
(which, after all, is often the biblical significance of water)
as an integral part -- even a precursor? -- to experiencing life

Which is to say, God, I wonder if you are inviting us by baptism into
a sacred intersection of tumult & harmony, heartbreak & heartbeat,
and saying, "Here: touch the element that can overwhelm & drown you
and there in the face of death, find the miracle that is life."

As sacraments go, dear God, can I just register the opinion that
communion is much nicer to affirm and to share?
"Eat. Drink." are not such hard commandments, and
the death that we remember at that table is not our own.

But in baptism...

We use funny religious phrases to beautify baptism like "dying to sin"
and we resist looking at the actual physical death-comes-to-us-all
meaning of baptism. (It's just as well that infants don't remember that
their earliest religious experience is a brush with the waters of death.)

God, in all that is overwhelming and suffocating right now,
I think that I'm looking for -- asking for -- the perspective to know
that death is part of life, that baptism isn't a one-time rite of passage,
that you experience the bitterness as much as (even moreso) than I do

That you call me not to avoid it...

That we are not baptized into safe life or simple life
but into holy life, which includes the crap and the pain and the beauty;
baptized to experience those intersections of death and life, and
to experience you there. God, help me to sense you there.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Are you okay?

Rachel Hackenberg said...

Hi Michelle. Thank you -- yes, I'm okay. Just thinking/praying aloud through life events. Thanks for asking!