Published in Associated Baptist Press April 2010
Stepping into baptismal waters to baptize my first candidate as a minister, I relived many of the emotions I felt over 18 years ago on the day that I was baptized. While my baptism was a very special and significant event in my life, this new experience has forever changed me.
With each step into the warm waters of the baptismal pool, I grew increasingly aware of my surroundings. I felt the water pull at my robe and weigh heavily upon my limbs and skin. Hearing my cue, I grabbed the hand of the teenage girl I was to baptize and led her out into the water. Wading hand-in-hand with this beautiful, wide-eyed, fully alive, curious-in-the-faith young woman, I also became increasingly aware of the child — the precious little life — I was carrying inside me.
I let the water swallow my growing belly and the experience seep through to my thirsty soul. There I stood, 31 weeks pregnant with life swimming inside me, holding the hand of a 13-year-old girl, with whom my daughter will share a name, entering sacred space together for this symbolic occasion.
I was no longer the student. I was the teacher, not only to the bright-eyed teenager gripping my hand or the hundreds of congregants eagerly anticipating the words the minister would speak, but teacher, mother, sustainer to the life swelling inside my womb.
A baptismal pool compared to a mother’s womb? It’s an interesting concept, for sure. A divine womb that we choose to enter, the divine womb of God where we are nourished and fed and begin to be shaped and formed into new life. We share breath, blood and being with our Creator, only to be birthed into the world — a world much different than the womb — where we live our life as a reflection of our Creator.
My husband and I will certainly be teacher, mother, father, sustainer, provider, nurturer, the list goes on and on, to our precious little girl, but there will come a time when we will step back and watch her toddle away to experience life on her own, outside the womb we’ve created for her.
We can only pray that the love she receives from us and the knowledge she gains from us inspires her, creates in her a desire to better humanity, to seek justice for those who need it, to feed those who have gurgling stomachs, to provide clothes for those shivering in the cold, to visit those who are starving for conversation, to swaddle the child with no mother or father, to share the hope and love and grace of God with those who are weary.
The divine womb of God is a sacred space where we are fully immersed, growing and feeding off of the Living Water, until we are delivered to this world to engage with humanity. Our very existence begins in community with our Creator, so that we may go forth from the womb and into the world seeking community with others to teach and to learn, to grow and to question, to inspire and be inspired and to fully live.