The husband and I were hurrying once again. We tried to ignore raindrops spitting on us as we began our belated drive from a family occasion on the opposite side of town. We were likely going to miss the whole thing, I fretted, hadn't got out the door when we'd planned, and we scanned the threatening skies and sped northward. We were forced to stop repeatedly for a plethora of reasons, it seemed. I pondered the wisdom of this decision... Yet we drew closer. Does this number 7 on the map mean that this stretch of the trip is 7 miles long? That can't be right. Shouldn't we be there by now? Is that a splash of rain or a dead bug? And then, familiar faces ahead, silly teenagers that we knew—they were pointing out parking places with excessive drama. Todd maneuvered our big station wagon to the indicated spot (yes, we still drive a station wagon, not an S.U.V.) and turned off the engine.
We leapt out, and I could hear people singing softly; we scurried up a steep backyard slope and saw many human backs standing before us. Small, tall, thick and thin, dark and pale. As unobtrusively as possible, we threaded our way through the many bodies, then landed at a spot near friends. I dropped the quilt I'd been carrying (for sitting on the ground in relative comfort, if we chose), and the kid and I kicked off our shoes. Lyric sheets were shared, and we joined the throng and sent hymns of praise Heavenward. Voices rose together, and we took turns gazing first at a beautiful lake of considerable size, then at the lightening sky.
The moment was approaching, and my son couldn't see; he is only 8, after all, and even shorter than I am. I took his hand and we carefully made our way to one of the picnic tables near the back of the gathering, where a stretch of empty wooden bench offered "high ground" on which my little dude could stand, thus gaining a better view. We watched as a widely varied group of folks began to populate the small beach next to the water. There were statements, explanations, and prayers. Then names were called, and one by one—children, old men, new moms, sheepish teens—each person stepped forward to be reborn. Pastors waited in the water, and the people came to them; some were shy, some confident, a few wiping at their eyes. Of course we applauded each time a soul was renewed. They came up out of that water dripping, and smiles abounded in both the dipped and the watchful. Were you wondering about those gray clouds that had dogged us all the way there? Well, they hovered and teased, but they never wept a single drop.
Afterward there were boat rides, wading, opportunities to feed the lake owners' tame fish, much visiting, and a general hubbub of joy.
From one family event to another, from blood connection to a brotherhood and sisterhood borne of confession and water: How blessed am I to have both.