Friday, October 16, 2015

Baptism

My daughter was baptized last week. As always, the faithful gathered around the ancient font with her to witness and participate in the ritual. Should you take seriously the words and the rites, the practice of the faith, then something very interesting happened there at that little bird bath when the water was poured over her head. There in that dingy old church with the chipped plaster and worn carpets, God claimed her little life for the greater life of the faith. Not only that, but the people gathered with my daughter claimed her as their own, as part of their family, as their responsibility and she too responsible for them. Among the odd and usually disheveled ranks of our church membership is a young woman who struggles with many demons and them severe delusions. After the baptism, when it was time for prayers, this young woman prayed that her daughter be blessed and cared for, her daughter who had just been baptized that day. The daughter she was talking about was my sweet girl twisted and changed into her child through the sick alchemy of mental illness. It was sad, and a little scary, but there is no doubt that this young woman, confused as she was, had love in her voice as she prayed. Setting aside the fear and the strangeness of the situation, there may be something deep and even beautiful in this woman claiming my child as her own, and it begs a question: whose are we? Is my daughter really “mine?” Is my wife “mine?” Am I hers? Yes and no. While we must not claim ownership of each other, we are bound to one another. We are tied with cords visible and invisible, we affect the lives spiritually, emotionally, materially of all those we encounter in our time on this world and our existence ripples forward and backwards, affecting things past and thing to come. In that way, when we go about our tasks, when we stagger out onto the world to meet our clients, even for the first time, we do not meet them as strangers. In that bed is a brother or sister, a cousin, a friend, an enemy, a mother, and father. We meet one we are responsible for and one responsible for us. So as we go about our tasks, may we care for those who come into our lives, as though we are caring for our own children, because in many hidden, strange and beautiful ways, we already are.

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