{ Deeper Story: A Baptism That Counts }

'St. John the Baptist' photo (c) 2007, Randy OHC - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

When was I baptized? When did my new identity hit me like the shocking sting of cold water to the lungs after a deep plunge? When did I come up gasping for air noticing everything around me looked different – brighter, truer? When did my identification with Christ recalibrate my compass, change my direction in this world?

It wasn’t when I was sprinkled as an infant in the secure arms of my mother. It wasn’t when I was dunked into the Pacific Ocean – because I wasn’t ever dunked. It’s as if I never was truly baptized at all.

But then…

I felt baptized the first time I read Walter Brueggemann’s The Land and Prophetic Imagination. Biblical truth so heavy I emerged with spirited levity. Scales melted off my eyes and I saw the text in Technicolor, my grayed life in want of such saturated color. I started living an alternative life, one with imagination, with the voice of the prophets ringing in my ears.

I felt baptized when I voted for Barack Obama, unapologetically voting my theology. I wanted to live in a world with less war, less hatred, less savage individualism that ignored the poor. I wanted a person of peace who’d advocate for solidarity and listen to the voices from the margins. My vote was a break from my former affiliation based on an emerging theological shift and it felt new and good.

I felt baptized on the bus ride to Bubanza, surrounded by Batwa students all chatting with youthful pitch and excitement. Careening away from the city I knew I was seeing those invisible to the world outside, my baptism of tears revealed my part in their story. I sensed ubuntu, our futures tethered together. The trajectory of my life would change because of them, for them.

I felt baptized as I read her words, hot tears gutting my cheeks. I finally said it – I am a writer. The entire week the mantra tingled on my lips, each vocalization claiming my new identity and the responsibility it entailed. I refused to hide anymore, I committed to write what I see, what I think and how I feel in God’s world.

And I intend to live out my baptism with all the prophetic flare of John the Baptist – wild and wooly, dangerous as decapitation.
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All content on this site is copyrighted by Kelley Nikondeha. Please do not copy work without permission. You are welcome to quote or reference my blog in your article, but please make sure you link back to the original post. Please do not post an article in full without permission, because that is a violation of intellectual property. (My African friends have a different sense of this, but being American, I can tell you it does matter to me!)

All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.