Baptism & Beginnings

The Baptism of Jesus & Genesis 1

“Excuse me,” said an ocean fish. “You are older than I, so can you tell me where to find this thing they call the ocean?”

“The ocean,” said the older fish, “is the thing you are in now.”

“Oh, this? But this is water. What I’m seeking is the ocean,” said the disappointed fish as he swam away to search elsewhere…

Stop searching, little fish. There isn’t anything to look for. All you have to do is look.

—Fr. Anthony De Mello

How does one come to this place after the week we have had?

We hoped that a new beginning, a new year would be less tumultuous than the last. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t leave behind all of the lies, rage, distrust, white supremacy, racism, and violence in 2020. It continues to haunt us and follow us. 

We are tired of it, and complicit.

A voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

To my babies, regarding your baptism:

You were always in. You were always good. You always belonged. You were always one of us. I see you here now and know there was a time before you, but now it is as if you were always here. Always that smile. Always that giggle. You belong. You are already family. 

Your tiny toes baptized into the Pacific Ocean, chilled water rushing back to sea with the message that you are one of us. That you belong. That your goodness goes before you.

Masked priest with blessed water tilting your tiny heads over the font. God of the universe, who chose you to be ours, put goodness inside your hearts and joy in your laughter, is well pleased with you.

Martin Luther famously implored people to, “Remember your baptism.” Our baptism reminds us who we are and how loved we are.

Remember who you are. Remember you are loved. The gods are not angry with you.

bap·tism /ˈbapˌtizəm/: to be overwhelmed by. 

I could not write a better definition of motherhood.

Overwhelmed by love.

Overwhelmed by emotion.

Overwhelmed by laundry.

Overwhelmed by all the touch and noise and muchness of it all.

Overwhelmed with exhaustion.

Overwhelmed with gratitude.

When my babies were born into the water, I was baptized into motherhood. Each time a baptism by fire, those first few weeks a blur of getting to know them and falling in love with them and finding seconds in between for sleep.

It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends.

—Joan Didion

In the beginning

I love a good beginning. The beginning of the school year, leaving for a trip, the first chapter of a good book. I love the excitement and buildup and expectation. 

In the beginning, God created

I love that the first recorded event in history is a creative act.

Not consumption.

Not positioning. 

Not destruction.

Creating. Making. Building. Forming. 

A study by NASA showed that in a diverse group of 1,600 preschoolers, 98 percent of them were creative geniuses. By high school, only 12 percent of the same kids scored at that level for creativity. At adulthood—only 2 percent. 

If we are created to be creative beings—what are we losing along the way that is taking that away from us. What are we replacing our creative abilities with?

Here we are at the beginning of a year. Beginnings are bursting with possibilities. Every iteration of reality is suspended before us. A balance holding both potential at the unknown in tension.

But there are growing pains. There is struggle, but don’t despise it. Your struggle is your life. 

We can choose to consume and position and destroy, or we can choose to get creative in solving the problems of our day.

A prayer for these _____ times

<—fill in the blank with fraught adjective of your choice

May we look at one another with clear eyes—remembering one another’s belovedness. 

May we link arms in solidarity instead of taking up arms. 

May we name the evil we see, rather than call one another evil names.

May we remember to take care of our own hearts when there is unrest.

May we turn off the news and go outside for fresh air. 

May we notice the birds still sing after the rainstorm.

May we remember that the personal is political.

May we remember that how we talk about things matters.

May we stop searching and learn to look.

May we be creative in our problem solving.

May we remember we are full of goodness and fountains of joy.

May we remember who we are.

May we remember we are loved.