This appears to be the main question I’m receiving after my ‘
Lipton’ing‘ baptism a couple of days ago.
As the SAP shared during the ceremony about why the Christian faith baptises, being immersed in a river did not do anything ‘magical’ to me. I didn’t emerge out the water like Dr Grey/Phoenix in the X-Men. It’s a symbol. A pretty public one. That I have skin in the Christian game. Jesus, God and I are now teammates. They have my back. I’ve got theirs.
Yet my new-age wanderings put credence in being ‘washed away’. Magic, no. Energetically, I’m feeling a lot more grounded in my Christianity. Perhaps the salt water counteracted all the adrenalin that flooded my system when the SAP said there were 250 sausages ordered for the post-dunking BBQ. 250?! Just how many people were going to be watching?
Welcome to the family
It both terrified and humbled me that so many people, a fairly good proportion of whom I had never met (given this was organised by the Saturday Night Youth Church and I’m an old broiler who goes to another service on Sundays), were on the riverbank cheering all the dunkees on. Unconditional love and support from those who were delighted in the decision we had reached. I was particularly moved by one close friend, a staunch atheist, who whooped and hollered from the riverbank with the rest and settled me with a generous gift of unconditional love herself: ‘Many congratulations, Phil. May your faith sustain you in good times and not so good. Lovely to see you so happy.‘ How generous, open-hearted and gorgeous is that?
Given I have skidded, crashed, cried, skinned knees, skinned heart, danced, dodged and whooped my way through this six month journey at a fairly break-neck speed, the water was a balm. I purposely withdrew from social media and implemented a strict regime on managing work email for three days before. Big T helped too, creating white space in the noise of domesticity on the day. It all allowed me to retreat inward. Settle and pat down the past 30 weeks of spiritual excavation. This was one occasion I had no wish to skid into.
A passage about baptism by Anne Lamott in her book ‘Travelling Mercies‘ struck me during this period:
“It’s about full immersion, about falling into something elemental and wet. Most of what we do in worldly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under…you agree to do something that’s a little sloppy because at the same time it’s also holy…. It’s about surrender, giving in to all those things we can’t control; it’s a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched... The hope, the belief, is that a new day is upon you now.”
So here I am, dunked, drenched, refreshed, and ready to rock the new day. Only two burning questions remain, and both have plagued my irreverent mind since the ceremony:
1) Has the SAP ever had a lipton-ing moment when, at the point he needs to start drawing the dunkee up and back out of the water, one hand firmly gripping their right shoulder, the other at the top of their left forearm, he thinks, “Uh-oh, I’ve not got the leverage here. This one’s going to hit the bottom…” 2) Do they offer ‘practice sessions’ at bible college?