Saturday, February 27, 2016

Day 16: Saturday: Baptized again

Oscar suffered from severe aphasia and debilitating arthritis… He spent… time in my parents’ cafe… he could manipulate a pencil well enough to make himself understood. Under the counter at the cafe I kept a large tablet expressly for Oscar’s use. He would pass me notes like a sneaky schoolboy … Oscar’s shaky scrawl was sometimes so large he had to finish the message on the back of the page. Well, one day he was laboring over a note … when having finished he handed me a page with a word on it that I could not decipher. I turned the page sideways, then upside-down, but I could not make any sense of Oscar’s inflated scrawl.
    Oscar meanwhile was making guttural sounds no more comprehensible than the word on the page. I made several guesses at the word; at each of them Oscar shook his head. I might be there guessing yet if my sister hadn’t materialized. She took one look at the word, said “Baptism,” then returned to wherever it was she had materialized from.
    My friend, you see, wanted to be baptized, but he did not want the ritual to be performed in the church. I believe he perceived himself as both nuisance and embarrassment, and because of this he had gone I don’t know how many years—he was sixty, I’d say, or close to it—without asking to be baptized… a long round of questioning led to this: Oscar wanted to be baptized, and he wanted it done in Shannon’s Creek.
    And he wanted me to be baptized with him.
    … I was stunned. I did not care to be baptized again; I had been both sprinkled and baptized once, and that seemed to me enough. But when through his notes and his noddings, his grunts and his hand signals and the open-mouthed contortions of his lips, Oscar insisted that I be baptized with him, I reconsidered.
    … you should have seen the sweet fire in Oscar’s eyes when I said yes, when I said hell yes, I’ll be happy to be baptized with you in Shannon’s Creek.

Which rites of sprinkling, confirmation or baptism have you experienced? Was one ‘more real’, or did different rituals hold different meanings? Pray about your experiences.

This Death by Drowning
William Kloefkorn This Death by Drowning (Lincoln, NE/London: University of Nebraska Press, 2001), 71-2.

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