Sunday, December 16, 2012
A couple weeks ago, a good friend lent me a book to read - "Traveling Mercies." Due to dwindling time-frames, I pushed aside a couple books given to me by other friends (Sorry David and Tim... I'll read your next. Promise!), and became immersed in this memoir which was flooded with spirituality. While I had to read it in parts (half yesterday, half this morning) because of it affecting me more than most books do, I was able to finish it today.
There is a part in there, near the end of the book, where the author (Anne Lamott) discusses the importance of water in Christianity. Or rather, about how Christianity is about water. "It's about surrender, giving in to all those things we can't control; it's a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched."
I stood under the water this morning, the steam circling around me, the hot shower flowing over me, around me, through me. I stared up into the stream, letting it wash over my face, my eyes. I cupped my hands, filling them with the lovely liquid, feeling it trickle from between my fingers; feeling it spilling over my flesh, washing over me.
As the water flowed over my cupped hands, spilling at my feet, I felt a sense of peace I haven't felt much as of late. A sense of sorrow mingled in the midst, but peace as well. Subconsciously, I reached up and traced the shape of a cross I could feel burning on my forehead. A tear or two mixed unnoticed with the heated drops from the shower. The burning cross on the forehead was not a painful burning - just one of warmth, and calm. But it did stir a painful sorrowful burn in my heart.
It was my birthday (29, for the 10th year in a row). The year had been rough, particularly the last few months. My life had been tough. And for the first time that I can recall in my life, I had reached out for help. We sat talking... a good friend and I.... and I think it was through frustration by him towards me - due to my ability to cast blame upon myself at all times - this friend finally figuratively dragged me to the front of the sanctuary, to the baptismal font.
It was there, at that time and on that day, I felt the water. I dipped my hand into the frigid water - frigid water which, while flowing through my fingers, brought me warmth. It was there, at that time and on that day, that he wet his finger with the water and placed a cross on my forehead. I was baptized as a baby, as most of us are, but this - on my 38th birthday - was the first time I truly felt the Holy Spirit with and within me.
Today, as I stood under that shower, my body and soul bared for God and none other, I felt Him again. I felt the water cleanse me, wash over me, renew my spirit, calm my aching heart.
""The hope, the belief, is that a new day is upon you now. A day when you are emboldened to take God at God's word about cleanness and protection. 'When thou passeth through the water, I will be with thee; and through the rivess, they shall not overflow thee'." (Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott)