Discover more from Working It Out As I Go
Sunshine and Surgery, Boat Rides and Baptism, Mimosas and Mourning
“Here! Take this.”
She shoved a small bottle of sterile water into my hand. I wedged my way in carefully between the respiratory therapist and the nurse as I approached the table. I gently (but quickly) dripped three tiny drops of water on his forehead, saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The surgeon continued her delicate and desperate work. The volume and activity of the room swelled again as I navigated my way back from the table to sit next to his mom. She sat on the edge of the hard, vinyl couch, her face buried in her hands. It was too hard for her to watch. His dad paced outside in the lobby. Being in the room was too much for him to handle. All of this was too much to handle. And God was present amid the chaos and pain. The love and presence of God were palpable and powerful even as the surgeon declared any further efforts to be futile. I ran to the lobby to find the dad so he could reunite with his wife and share their final moments with their baby together.
The sun shone brightly on a perfect early fall day. The aroma of brewing coffee, freshly baked pastries, and quiche wafted through the house. Mimosas were poured, and laughter rang out as we gathered on a picturesque patio by the lake. Smiling family and friends took pictures as I splashed water gently on her forehead. Her eyes startled at first, then fixed on mine as I said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We shared a meal that tasted as delicious as it smelled. We took a boat ride together. It was a perfect day, and the love and presence of God were palpable and powerful as we shared in the celebration.
The presence of God is NOT dependent on our situation or circumstance. Thank God. I wish every baptism was like the one by the lake. I wish life was always like that, but it’s not. It’s not all pain and grief, either. Life is not simply happy or sad. It is not celebration or sorrow. It is all of these things — often simultaneously. Suffering and joy can (and often do) co-exist. AND God is fully present with us in and through it all. If not, would God even be worth acknowledging? Would God be worth knowing? Would God be worth orienting my life around? I say no—hard pass. If God were in the habit of wandering off when life gets hard, I’d put my energy and focus elsewhere.
In the last four years, many places and spaces where I’ve sensed God’s presence most fully have been those where no one wants to roam. Maybe the light is more visible to me in the dark. Maybe my inability to make sense of the senseless helps me become more attuned to the holy. As hard as it is to wander near trauma and death so frequently, I will continue to do so… willingly because I know God is present there. And I need to know God’s loving presence with me. I’m also open to more sunshine, boat rides, and mimosas.
Working It Out As I Go is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.