Crows hang near the house today.
Perch in the tree across the drive.
When I see crows, I think of my baptism.
My first one anyway.
That just isn’t right.
I walked several blocks to church when I was in nursing school. Not every week. And not many weeks.
But enough weeks to build up the nerve to wait for the pastor to greet everyone after church one Sunday and tell him I wanted to be baptized.
I think it happened after the service. A couple friends may have come with me. I don’t remember.
And I don’t remember the sprinkling.
I don’t remember the words.
I knew that in some sense it identified me as different.
It was something I felt I’d missed.
I wish I’d understood more.
I only wish I’d been awake to the deeper, richer sense of baptism’s symbols on the day I stepped into tepid water, closed my eyes to chlorine and a pastor. But as Lauren Winner notes, sometimes we, like the Israelites, have to use that little phrase out of Exodus 24, Na’aseh v’nishma: We will do and we will understand. Sometimes the doing brings the understanding. Sometimes, as in my case, there’s an embarrassing time gap between the act and the illumination. ~L.L. Barkat, Stone Crossings.
It was many years later before I understood the movement of “soul from darkness to light,” from death to life.
But at the time I gave as much of me that I could to as much as I understood.
And the crows?
My greatest memory of this church is walking alone one Sunday morning after watching the movie, The Birds, the night before. Crows gathered in the trees, and my heart fluttered and thumped. I feared they might be after me.
In a sense, I suppose crows might be a fitting reminder of baptism. They eat garbage. And there’s a cleansing when we submit to the water. We leave the garbage of the old life behind.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. ~Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)
Several years ago, our family joined a church that required immersion.
A newborn travels from darkness to light, from water to warm, dry arms. And from breathlessness to wide swallows of air. He journeys into life and can never turn back. ~L.L. Barkat in Stone Crossings
It was much more meaningful, and my husband and I talked about how we felt different.
But it seems I drop more garbage daily.
Maybe that’s why the crows are here today.