The evening is cold and damp; the earlier sun has slid behind gathering rain clouds. I pull on my black wool coat. I have been tired and rushed most of the day. After all, it is Friday and I've had many things to accomplish. Unfortunately deadlines have been missed and I've had to make hurried last minute phone calls. I had planned to get everything done but my strength has run out. When my strength leaves me, I have to stop and lie down. Deadlines have to wait.
Dealing with chronic illness often leaves me depleted of needed vitality. Normal events often challenge me. Though my mind is willing, my body is not.
Tonight I feel like a frazzled chewed up slipper. Someone has suggested to me that I need to be wrapped in a soft gauze, put in a warm jar; and placed on a high shelf where all of life can pass by without touching me. At this moment, the idea sounds most peaceful.
My husband is a minister. Tonight is a special night for he will baptize two wonderful ladies. We have eagerly planned a nice dinner for them. All has gone well. Now it is time to go to the church for the baptismal service, but my energy is gone. Can I make it through three more hours of driving across town, leading out in song service, visiting with the family members, and driving back home. My exhausted body is demanding to lie down; I want to pull the covers over a pounding head and close my tired eyes.
Instead I grab my gloves, button my coat, smile at the hollow reflection of myself in the mirror and pray, "God, please give me strength for the next few hours,"
The song service goes well. As each candidate enters the baptismal water, I quietly reflect on my own commitment and baptism as a child many years ago. With a grateful heart, I thank God for my son's recent baptism.
The benediction brings the service to an end. Family and friends gather in a most celebrant and festive mood. There are hugs and tears and more hugs.
Towards the rear of the sanctuary, I notice Rick, a single father, sitting alone with his small son, Nicholas. How faithful and supportive he has been while attending Sabbath services this past year with his two sons.
I make my way back to this little family. Five-year-old Nicholas is sitting on his father's knees looking intently towards the baptismal area. Touching his tousled blond hair where cowlicks play in jest, I say, "Hi Nicholas." This momentarily brings his attention away from the front of the church.
"You won't believe what Nicholas just asked me!" his father speaks incredulously.
"What?" I inquire, knowing that anything might be possible from Nicholas.
"He's asked if he could be baptized."
Nicholas's father continues to tell me that he asked his son if he knew what it means to be baptized. Nicholas had looked into his father's eyes and responded,"Yeah, it is when I am dunked in the water and come up with Jesus. Jesus takes away my sins."
Absorbed in our conversation, we don't notice that Nicholas is walking up the aisle. Needing to see more, he climbs up onto the pastor's platform chair. Standing on tippy-toes, he is peering into the watery baptismal area.
The head deacon remains busy cleaning up the pews, while his wife nervously watches as Nicholas looks into the baptismal tank.
"Look at Nicholas." I say to his father as t point to the platform area.
His father begins a quick approach maneuver to rescue and remove one small son from one pastor's large chair.
At that same moment, my husband takes in the scene from across the room. He sees a small child with a heart looking for Jesus. Intercepting the fast approaching father, my husband whispers, "Let me talk to him about baptism." Going to the large chair where Nicholas continues to stand on tippy-toes, my husband says,"Would you like me to show you how people who give their hearts to Jesus are baptized?"
With eyes wide as saucers, Nicholas' small hand reaches out as he responds, "Yeah."
My heart rejoices and I feel strong again.