Monday, March 10, 2008

whiter than snow

It was a scene plucked straight out of stereotypical Southern gospel lore.
White-robed choir members swayed in sync with each other, clapping as the sang.
Parishioners raised their arms in the air, swaying from one bare foot to the other in the sand while they proclaimed their ‘Hallelujah!’s.
The preacher beckoned us all to come be washed clean, baptized of the Spirit. Waves rolled in over him, swirling the layers of his robe till they billowed up to his outstretched arms.
As I approached for my between-services swim in the ocean, I paused next to a cluster of women attired in all their Sunday finery of frocks and hats and frills. Since I had not yet drawn near enough to see the actual goings on in the water [all I could see from there was a large crowd of onlookers], I turned to one of the ladies: Excuse me, Ma’am—is something happening here?
“Why yes, honey—something GOOD is happening here!”
At this point I guessed at the nature of the crowd, so I nodded and said, Ah—a baptism?
“Why yes,” she said, taking stock of my beach tote and probable tourist-like appearance. “Do you believe in baptism?,” she continued.
Pausing for a moment to consider the ramifications of my words, I replied, Yes Ma’am, I do.
“And have you been baptized?” she said, gazing pointedly at me as she emphasized the “you” in her question.
At this point I paused slightly longer, wondering if my Presbyterian-style baptism would be seen as valid in her eyes. But I answered with confidence,
Yes Ma’am, I have!, and bid her goodbye as I continued on to claim a spot on the sand.
Who knows—I may have just passed up my only opportunity to be washed by the blood on Caymanian sands . . .

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