Monday, March 19, 2012

25. WHITE


When winter wisps away all that is living, it’s a mercy that she covers us with white.  Imagine if snow was black.

Against the logic of a school girl who mixed her paints and discovered that’s how you can get murky blackish gray, it still thrills me to know that, scientifically speaking, it’s white which is the presence of all color.  I didn’t learn that till I was all grown up.  That small child logic thinks white looks like no color, because the page on which we paint is most often white.  But in reality black is the absence of all color and white is the opposite.

Timothy went down in the waters of baptism last summer all in white, as will Sophie this weekend.  And though they look so simple and colorless, I squint my eyes and imagine my beloveds being covered with color, more vibrant and varied than my human eyes can see.  I imagine the color being full of laughter and song and joyful clapping, though the room is quiet and still. 


In that singular moment when they open the sliding doors to the font, when the siblings and cousins and friends are gathered on their knees in front of the water and the grown ups are standing behind them, there is a low pitched almost inaudible hum of anticipation as a young child walks down the steps and into the baptismal font opposite their dad, who is also dressed in white:  Down into the warm, deep water, willing themselves to be brave when its time to go all the way under. They trust the safety of their fathers’ arms behind their backs...trust that they will lift them out before they need to draw a breath.


We strip ourselves of pride when we allow ourselves to be immersed, our pretty hair do’s instantly undone, our wet clothes clinging to our flesh.  It’s a good thing we see each other through the eyes of love at times like this. 

When David baptized our four children he sealed my heart to his, once again.  There have been many heart sealing’s in our life together.  Dressed in white, his black hair and olive skin so striking in contrast.  His strong right arm raised to the square, his left arm cinched to his child’s, his head bowed in reverence, his lips pronouncing sacred words. With real intent he dipped his child fully under water, raising and embracing and verifying with witnesses that the immersion was exact.  When I was 9 and my 8 year-old sister Libby was baptized, her big toe floated to the top and stuck out of the water.  They had to do it again.  No wimping out in immersion, you either do it or you don’t.

When my little ones were baptized I stood in my Sunday dress, outside the water, watching... going back in my brain… back eight years to when my child was born, when he or she came from me all wet from immersion, all covered with light. 

We baptized all our children in the Salt Lake Tabernacle baptistery.  We were able to make that choice in those days.  Having come to Zion from the east, we cherished being in this holy place, on this sacred soil, and while neighbor kids were baptized in Farmington, we drove to Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The baptistery there is tucked under the Tabernacle.

Years later each of our children would return to that place, walk across the pavement, through the gates, and into the temple where a new rebirth washed over them.  Another sealing. We seal ourselves to God.  He seals himself to us. He invites us to bind ourselves eternally to each other.  Again…in white.   And again, I imagine the joyful sounds we cannot hear; the clapping and dancing and all those amazing colors!

I stand with my husband, my sisters, my brother, my mother, my children…in a perfect circle of white, our hands interlaced so that the circle never ends.

Indeed, it never ends.

And there is joy and rejoicing and laughter and singing. And every imaginable color!

When time wisps away from me all that is living, bury me in white.

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