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20130911_094456September 11

The Jordan River, like many of the sites I’ve visited in the Holy Land and have yet to visit is hard to connect with.  We don’t know where exactly along the Jordan River Jesus was baptized and the churches and monuments rarely help me imagine and make a connection with “this” site being “the” site. I try though.  I long to make some connection–to feel in my core what I think and know in my head. To feel the wonder and awe of being in the same place my savior took part in this sacred cleansing ritual of baptism and the heaven’s parted and God said, “This is my beloved with whom I am well pleased.”

I walk along past the gleaming gold-domed Orthodox church, along the dusty dirt path, past the wooded monument at the intersection of the river with the spring, past the mosic of Pope John Paul II mosaic (seriously), to the green opaque river.  I find some solace in the sound of the birds.  I hear no other noise but their song and the soft hush of pebbles and sand beneath my feet. I realize there is something holy about this place because the birds chirp with a joy as if they know.  They know what happened here.

I’ve been wrestling with some painful challenges along the trip.  So a renewal of my baptism felt like a welcome gift from God.  I crouched upon the lowest of the wooden stairs leading into the cool, sage green liquid and dipped my cupped hand in.  I poured it on my head three times as I poured out my thanks and transgressions.  Pouring, patting, and holding own hand tenderly on my brow.  Repeat and repeat.  I rubbed the wet water around my face and felt my body and soul refreshed.  Astounding grace.