Sunday, January 06, 2013

Baptized in Dirty Water....

Today is Theophany, when the Eastern Church commemorates the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by St. John.

So it is making me remember my own baptism, as it probably should.

I was 12 years old and one night I was lying awake in bed, thinking about life, the universe and everything, and I heard this thought: "You should be baptized. You believe in me, don't you?" For some reason I was scared to tell my parents that I wanted to be baptized, because it seemed like such a BIG THING, and I imagined them giving me the 3rd degree about it, imagined grillings and lectures.

Finally I screwed up my 12 year old courage and told my mom I wanted to be baptized. "Oh, OK. We'll arrange it." That was IT? Where was the lecture and the grilling that I was so afraid of?

Since my dad was a minister, it was easy to find a minister to do the deed. We weren't formally members of the Swiss Reformed Church, so it made more sense to have a service elsewhere.

So, on the 8th of April, 1982, I was baptized by my dad with a small group of friends gathered around, in the Rhine river, in Basel, Switzerland, on a boat ramp. It was extremely cold. Words were said, I got dunked. The water was opaque. It was in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I was wearing baptismal garments of blue jeans and a dark blue University of Basel sweatshirt. I think the boat ramp was about five blocks from our apartment.

Afterwards we went home pretty quickly and I took a hot bath and got some clean clothes on and I seem to remember a little Bible Study or something happening. There was probably food and hot tea, but since that was more than 30 years ago, my memory fades.

But I remember my baptism every year on Theophany, and on its anniversary.

And also whenever I hear the line in the song "God Love Her" by Toby Keith, I feel a little squiggle...because that ONE LINE fits: "She's a rebel child and a preacher's daughter, she was baptized in dirty water..."

So I don't know if any priest has ever thrown a cross into the Rhine river on Theophany, to bless it, but I do know this: One little girl who wants to grow up to be a saint, and whose life has become a cross was dipped into the Rhine one day. Maybe that's good enough to turn the Rhine into holy water, by God's grace.

4 comments:

Ruth said...

Thank you for sharing this. Those milestones in our lives are so important! I do believe that the Rhine was holy water in your life.

RL said...

Thank you for sharing! I was about the same age when I made the decision. You've made me think! Perhaps I'll share about my baptism when our family reaches the Russian Theophany! :-D

Michelle M. said...

Beautiful story, Alana. Glorious Feast!

elizabeth said...

Being a mother for your children is a HUGE thing and perhaps you have not buried all your talents as you seek to be faithful to your current roles. So glad to hear the good things for your two daughters. HUGS.