July 22, 2009
Yesterday it rained all day in Philadelphia. For religious reasons, I was glad that the community pool was closed.
Let me explain.
I spent Monday afternoon sitting on the water's edge watching my daughter go down the slide and my boys play Marco Polo in the shallow end. I got to talking with another mom and forgot all about my kids until the woman pointed to one of my sons and asked what he was doing. Cortlen was still in the shallow end, now surrounded by five or six similarly aged children. One by one, each of the kids stepped forward and made his/her way to Cortlen's side. After whispering a few words I couldn't hear, Cortlen sprinkled water onto the child's forehead or, if preferred, completely submerged him.
"It looks like he's..." the woman interjected.
I cut the woman off and jumped into the pool. I reached my son just as he was preparing the wash away the sins of one of his preschool classmates.
"Are you baptizing people?" I asked.
"No," he replied.
"It looks like you are," I stated.
"I'm not!" he insisted.
Ultimately, one of my son's followers betrayed him. "He is! He is!" the little boy shouted gleefully. "I've been baptized five times today!" he announced proudly.
I couldn't wait for the words of praise and gratitude that I knew were forthcoming from the boy's mother.
"That's very nice, " I warned, "But please keep your hands to yourself. I'm serious."
My command to abandon God's work was not well received.
"Meanie!" my son shrieked when I turned my back.
A handful of pint-sized disciples cried foul and splashed water in my direction when I told John the Baptist that he was one baptism away from a time out.
Fortunately, baptizing is not a difficult skill to acquire or perform once one learns to distinguish between dunking and drowning. By the time we left the pool, religious fervor had spread across the complex, with baptisms being performed in every corner.
Lifeguards: you can thank me later.