Tag Archives: baptism


I’d be lying if I said spirituality is easy for me, but I’d also be lying if I said it didn’t matter or was difficult. My spirituality is by far the most important and integral part of my life, but it’s also one of the most complicated facets.

On my way back to coffee shop I visited yesterday, on my way back to actually complete my lesson plans for next week, I went past Taylor University, a small very conservative Christian college in Upland, Indiana. I am not a fan of their theology or their ridiculous set of strict rules, but I do feel like many of my favorite people in this world have gone there and gotten out relatively unscathed. Some of them seem to have even learned a thing or along the way. Taylor is also a somewhat rivalry of my theological alma mater, Anderson University, an equally conservative and rule-ridiculous college about 45 minutes away.

Anyway, I bring up Taylor University because my spirituality these days is heavily influenced by Jesus and Buddha, but not by any official church or religion. I pray, I meditate, I try to be kind and compassionate. Some days are more successful than others, but I haven’t been to an actual church service, except for watching my grandchildren be baptized, for about two years, I’d say. This is not because I don’t find it valuable—the Episcopal Church has my organized religion heart—but I just find that I can practice my spiritual pretty much anywhere. If I am not careful, I am moved to spiritual tears by pretty much anything.

Back to this morning—all these asides make my head spin, but that’s just how my brain works—when I drove past Taylor Lake on my way to some of the most beautiful scenery in East Central Indiana, a road that, when I was in high school, people called Devil’s Backbone, ironic because of TU being right there, I had a feeling in my gut that was so familiar.

If you know my story, you know I was baptized at a very young age, maybe 6, after accepting Jesus into my heart in an old, brown recliner chair where I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer with my mom one night before bed time. If you know my story even better, you know that I by no means believe that is how a conversion experience works, or that we maybe don’t even need conversion, because we are all good and pure and beautiful on the inside anyway, but that is how it happened for me at 4, 5, or 6.

As I drove past TU this morning with a beautiful pink sunrise and the fall leaves reflecting on the smooth water of the lake, I was transported back to 40 years ago when I wore a little white sundress and waded into a cold, slightly mucky, and very weedy, Taylor Lake to make a public profession of the faith that was shaping me. I waded in to the water, said I confessed my sins, promised to live a good life, and then I was under the water, looking up through a blur into the sunlight above the water.

As I drove past that lake this morning, my heart moved, my spirit stirred, I began to cry, and I wondered when everything in this world got so unbeautiful and so difficult and so mean. I wished I could go back and see the world through the water into the sun, weeds wrapped around my little ankles, safe in a feeling that everything would be alright.

Lent Day 19: Well Just Like That

My spring break is over. I have never understood why Ball State’s spring break is the first full week of March, nor will I ever. It was mostly cold and yucky, and now this week it’s supposed to be in the 70s all week. My brother’s school doesn’t have spring break until the first week of April! I’m not complaining. I just don’t get it, nor will I ever.  Now, as far as I’m concerned, summer can’t get here fast enough.

I don’t really have anything to say today. Well, I have a lot to say, but I’m old, I’m tired, and I still have a lot of grading left to do before tomorrow. So instead of writing my own reflection, I’m going to send you over to my friend Kimberly’s site to read her post on baptism. It’s beautifully written and it touched my heart. Baptism is one of my biggest theological interests, so I was pleased to read such an interesting take on it. And, since I recently wrote about it, I was especially intrigued when I saw the title, “Beaches, Bikinis, and Baptism.” Seriously, go there. Read it. You won’t be sorry. And, while you’re there, nose around. There are too few women who write some decent feminist theology, or who share their specifically female spiritual thoughts. Not to knock you men out there, but sometimes women just have a different row to hoe. We sometimes need to speak to, and for, our own, as do you.

Lent Day 8: Remember Your Baptism and Be Grateful

Each day, I try to read at least a chapter from each of several books in which I am immersing myself at the moment. One of the books I am reading right now is Reluctant Pilgrim by Enuma Okoro. Okoro’s voice reminds me a bit of the writerly voice I strive for: honest, quirky, humorous, serious when necessary, and compassionately smart. She achieves this voice in a way that I hope one day I will. In tonight’s reading, her thoughts about baptism reminded me of my own:

It is fascinating to me as a writer that the portal into the life of God is through water and word. Somehow the Holy Ghost shacks up in our souls with a verbal lease-to-buy agreement (depending on your tradition), and we are sealed to God for eternal life. I’m not going to pretend I get all that. But I do find the thought of it absolutely beautiful. Whenever I hear the words “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever” during a baptismal service at church, I clutch my heart and gush as though I’ve just seen a baby panda rescued by a fleet of tiny forest nymph-like fairy angels.

I was baptized when I was somewhere around five years old after “accepting Jesus into my heart” at the ripe old age of four. I had no idea what I was getting into (had I known the many twists and turns my spiritual journey would take, I might have run away) when I asked my mom to pray with me in the living room of our small ranch home. She was sitting in the brown recliner, watching television, and I had been reading my Bible in my room. I remember walking out and asking her about being “saved.” She invited me to climb up into the chair with her, and I think I remember sitting on the foot rest portion of the recliner while she sat in the seat. I think I remember her praying a prayer of forgiveness and confession, and I think I remember praying it, line by line, after her. I know I remember feeling holy when we had finished, like I had done something life altering and important. I remember.

After getting saved, everyone knows the way to seal or bind that salvation is through baptism, so I was the youngest person in the membership class at Hartford City First Church of the Nazarene (we quickly migrated to Methodism). I learned the quick and dirty version of what it meant to be a Christian, and shortly after the class, all of us who had taken it were baptized.

I wore a little white sundress that might have had blue trim and possibly had some fabric applique fruits on the front. The sun shined warm on my summer-tan skin. The slight breeze kept blowing my skirt, as I walked barefooted in the sand on the beach at Taylor Lake. The water was thick and brown with algae covering the surface in spots. The beach was clear as the brightness shimmered off the calm surface. I felt so important. I was making a public profession of my faith in Jesus. I had somehow missed the part about dying to attain life; I just knew I loved Jesus and wanted everyone else to know it, too.

Having waded out until the water was about chest deep, I remember feeling calm, at home, peaceful. The pastor pinched my nose and covered my mouth with his palm. He spoke, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Dunk. “Amen.” I went under the surface, I was lifted back up, and I was a new little girl. I had been born, died, and resurrected in Christ. I was a new creation. The old was gone, and the new had come.

This moment is one of the many reasons why I love swimming and being near water, why it is my lifeblood. Each time I swim, I can remember my baptism and be grateful. Each time I look out the window to see the river across the street, I can remember my baptism and be grateful. When I think about the spiritual formula presented by Okoro, I realize why words are so important in my life as well: water and words are the portal into life with God. Through those two elements, I remember my baptism. Each time I remember my baptism, I renew my faith, and it is absolutely beautiful.