So, I baptized myself in the New River yesterday. (Is that heretical? blasphemous? who decides?)
The gate of golden light beckoned; how could I not?
The New, practically in our backyard, is one of three sister rivers that were here before the Appalachian Mountains, now worn to nubs, were taller than the Himalayas.
It was the power of that mighty river, still flowing all these millions of years later, that called me to itself. Much like God, only God is infinitely and eternally more so.
God took the form of a floating hubcap. That it could drift on by me like an industrial-growth model of Pooh's umbrella boat propelled me into my after-church river clothes. Such is one benefit of church in town: taking it to the water on the way home.
Because it is pretty fantastic to go down to the river to pray on the way home, even more so because I first sang it inside a sanctuary, one that recognizes my daughter as a saint.
Once I was in the sun-warmed water (Ford hubcap retrieved), walking on angel-winged clamshells and smooth-edged rocks, I knew I belonged. And more: I was welcome.
There is indeed more than one west-facing waterside.
I heard anew a line from the morning's psalm (read in unison as standard practice, seated, no Glory to the ... afterwards): the river of God is full of water (65:9).
The first right thing would have been to fall backwards and float face skyward, arms outstretched. I hesitated and thus was lost. The second right thing became Flora and I walking out from the bank, into waters farther, deeper, stronger. Still warm, still soft, still flowing.
I thought of John in the Jordan and wondered if I would have wandered into his waters.
I remembered photographs of Applachian baptisms, the weighted skirts of German Baptists, and Flora showed me, Like this, Mama.
And the third right thing was to go under, three times, In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I didn't even care about the outdated gender words.
Because then I could float, face skyward, arms outstretched, giving myself to the mighty current of God, watching the sycamore stay in place, hearing Flora laugh her tremendous melting laugh, You're not going anywhere, Mama!