Sometimes we are all prone to wonder: Do we make a difference? We say, and believe, that we are about the transformation of lives. Sometimes we receive a sign, an indication, that we very much make a difference. I share below a slightly edited (to remove names) account from one of our young mothers. She leads a busy professional life and finds time, makes time, to tend to the transformation of her young daughter. In that process, she finds her own life being transformed.
I had an experience with my daughter this morning that was a memory I would love to bottle up, tuck away, and access forever.
Every morning when I drop her off at school, which is at our church, St. David’s, she likes to first go to “Big Church,” the Historic Sanctuary, and then “Little Church,” the contemporary worship space where we have kids service.
I cherish these quiet times with her, when the lights are off in both sanctuary spaces, and they are only lit by candlelight and the pooling colors cast on the floor from the stained glass above.
She always likes to pretend to be “Father David” and instructs me to sit in the first pew, while she walks up to the choir stall and clambers up to the pulpit. She cannot see over the top of it, but she doesn’t care. She tells me “stories” from her post, and I listen. Then she likes to pretend to baptize me at the stone font where she was baptized.
This morning when she ran to the door of Little Church, we opened the door and startled a bearded man who looked like he could have been homeless and who sat in the far corner of the space at the piano bench. I told him it was okay, to please sit back down, we were just coming to sit for a moment. He did, we entered, and the door shut behind us.
It was utterly silent and dark, but there was light falling on the man in the corner. Then he started playing. He was phenomenal. Absolutely brilliant pianist. He struck and stroked the keys and it filled the space with such richness from that grand piano. It was overwhelming the beauty of the sound.
Then my daughter asked me to kneel down at a little table, her makeshift baptismal font, and she took her little hands and started stroking them over my face and hair. I closed my eyes, and she said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” I opened my eyes, and she was off, running like the two-year-old she truly is. But for a moment, we were hanging in this timeless space. Her the priestess, me on my knees begging for blessing, and the homeless man carrying us in song.
The man mentioned above is one of our members, Roger. He is a classically trained pianist who practices on our pianos with permission. He does not consider himself homeless as he has a home, a camp he has set up in a ‘green space’ in town.
In our service of Holy Baptism we commit to support those whom we baptize in their life in Christ. We baptized the child mentioned above, and we are ensuring that she is raised in the love and knowledge of the Lord. But as her mother so well articulates, we must ask, “Who is supporting whom?” “Who is helping to transform whom?”
A child, a young mother, a bearded pianist…God’s agents of transformation! As we enter into this holy season of Lent – may it be a time of transformation for us all.
“But for a moment, we were hanging in this timeless space.
Her the priestess, me on my knees begging for blessing,
and the homeless man carrying us in song.”