Ritual

Why do I walk on tiptoes when I first step into icy blue?
                                 As if my waist
must stay above the lapping line,
                                                  as though
caution will keep me safe in this task
which infants undertake with glee?
The slow preparation,
the gasps as underneath we plunge:
all this is ritual, and we are drawn to it
as ducks to streams –
salt or chlorine always say
Summer, whatever the temperature of air,
however pervasive the shade.
And here bamboo lines the pool, and palm
fronds droop like willows thirsty for drink:
the scene is stamped, Paradise
in shades we are trained to recognise.
Not all is familiar or belongs:
pindan dust falls to blue floor
and outside smudges the bitumen.
My coast is not this coast;
the sun sets for me the other way.
Though strange the air and stranger the days,
all water says, I am home.

Catechism 44

image

What is baptism?
Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church.
(New City Catechism)

Why water? First
He hovered, spirit, above the depths,
divided water in sky from land,
said, “Here shall your proud waves be stopped,
here go no further.”

Yet then, when earth
had sickened and man had withered His image,
He took out the stopper and let the waves pour forth.
Now He bids

water flow over bodies
and into hearts, cleansing, reversing
the tides of shame, of uncreation; now pours
Spirit flooding with life, where only
death once hovered.

Take the waves, take
the plunge. Life beckons.
Still His Spirit hovers and breathes
into the dead, still He makes
and remakes and remakes.

Lent 19: Third Sunday of Lent

Francois Perrier - Moses Draws Water from the Rock
Francois Perrier – Moses Draws Water from the Rock

           Meanwhile
we clutch unflinching rock with closed fists,
willing water with dusty souls,
           palms closed
and eyes fixed groundward.
 
            Somehow
our hearts lock over each passing grief and seal
themselves around each rock
            as though
our minds could read eternal.
 
            Although
streams do not yet flow out from the ashen earth,
come sing: His hands have formed
            dry ground
and the wild stirring of the seas.