It is to believed because it is absurd. – Tertullian
and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,[a] who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 3:21
I wore a cassock alb for fewer than 3 minutes this week. Sized E-J, it fit perfectly over my breasty breasts and fell perfectly over my new clogs. I didn’t or maybe couldn’t take a picture of myself dressed in such a manner. In awe, I simply stared at my reflection. I was also a little bit frightened. But in a good way. Have you ever felt like that?
On Wednesday I rushed from my church history class to set my schedule for my field education assignment at the Church of the Heavenly Rest. I tell anyone who asks that she, in all her Episcopal grandeur flirted with me for the past 3 years. I’d start and end my run around the reservoir with her in my head. She was my landmark, my light at the end of the tunnel … my almost finished marker when I began a spiritual practice of walking turned running in Central Park. She didn’t move, but always drew me closer.
I didn’t go inside for over a year.
She’s a church I can walk to, but at 5th Ave and 90th Street in NYC, let’s just say she and I are from different worlds. New York is like that – walking a few blocks in any direction can change the cultural, economic and social landscape dramatically. I’m Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, double-dutch and government cheese. She’s posh, upper east side private school privilege. We’re both good people, with good hearts but we just wouldn’t connect. We would never have met.
Intrigued, I attended Monday night silent meditation, Wednesdays Celtic Eucharist and evening prayer on Sunday nights. When I saw Heavenly Rest on the list for possible field-ed assignments last year, I had to apply. If I’m honest I both know and don’t know about this part of the journey. In a strange way, the absurdity of this path points me back to God. I believe it to be right and good largely because I trust God. I’m walking into a foreign land with traditions and ways of being very different from any I’ve known. In fact, all I know is the grace found in the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.
And that’s enough.
So it’s all learning, all beginning again. Starting over and adding to. Growing. More than ever my faith calls me to love God with my mind. To understand the foundation of my faith and to ‘find and see’ myself in the traditions by learning about people like Absolom Jones and Pauli Murray or discovering that the observance of Lent has roots in Egypt which people often forget – is in Africa. This time around I want to bring my whole self to the table. I want to celebrate the gift of being there.
All of this makes me think about baptism and the scripture I recited before an elder at my church assisted in the submerging of my physical frame in the Atlantic Ocean – not too far from the shore at Coney Island. That was more than 25 years ago. That year, I made my wish known and did the work for baptism candidacy. It wasn’t much. Just memorizing and reciting the scripture. Still, I was ready to profess my faith – publicly.
One of the things I remember most about that day is changing clothes. When it was over I changed out of my sandy, wet t-shirt and skirt into clean, dry clothing brought for the occasion. My baptism by water was powerful but the act of changing clothes was the embodiment of the new life I hoped for. It was a meaningful experience that marked my enlightenment as a believer. It was a rebirth by water and spirit, by the putting on of Christ, clothed with a new garment – I began again.
Tomorrow I’ll wear that cassock alb when I serve my new friends as the seminarian intern at the Church of the Heavenly Rest. Clothed in this tunic I’ll remember my perpetual resurrection.
Three cheers for new beginnings and the God of great surprises!
Let your handmaiden find grace in your sight … #GiveMeGrace
Have you explored other faith traditions? Was it intentional or like mine … seemingly a part of Gods crazy perfect plan for your life? What was your experience?